catch

1 of 2

verb

ˈkach How to pronounce catch (audio)
ˈkech
caught ˈkȯt How to pronounce catch (audio)
 also  ˈkät
; catching

transitive verb

1
a
: to capture or seize especially after pursuit
catch a thief
b
: to take or entangle in or as if in a snare
catch fish in a net
c
d
: to discover unexpectedly : find
caught in the act
e
: to check (oneself) suddenly or momentarily
He started to say the wrong thing but quickly caught himself.
f
: to become suddenly aware of
caught me looking at him
2
a
: to take hold of : seize
He caught her by the arm as she tripped.
b
: to affect suddenly
The announcement caught me by surprise.
c
: to grasp and hold on to (something in motion)
catch a fly ball
d
: to avail oneself of : take
caught the first opportunity to leave
e
: to obtain through effort : get
catch a ride
f
: to overtake unexpectedly
usually used in the passive
was caught in a storm
g
: to get entangled
catch a sleeve on a nail
3
: to become affected by: such as
a
: contract
catch a cold
b
: to respond sympathetically to the point of being imbued (see imbue sense 2) with
catch the spirit of an occasion
c
: to be struck by
He caught a bullet in the leg.
d
: to be subjected to : receive
catch hell
4
a
: to take in and retain
a barrel to catch rainwater
b
: fasten
catch back a curtain
5
: to take or get usually momentarily or quickly
catch a glimpse of a friend
catch a nap
6
a
: overtake
catch the leader in a race
b
: to get aboard in time
catch the bus
7
: to attract and hold : arrest, engage
caught their attention
The glint of the gold in each case caught my eye, you see.Arthur Conan Doyle
8
: to make contact with : strike
The pitch caught him in the back.
9
a
: to grasp by the senses or the mind
you catch what I mean?
didn't catch the name
b
: to apprehend and fix by artistic means
The new portrait catches her likeness perfectly.
10
a
: see, watch
catch a game on TV
b
: to listen to
caught the last part of the concert
11
: to serve as a catcher for in baseball
caught both ends of the doubleheader
12
: to meet with
catch you later

intransitive verb

1
: to grasp hastily or try to grasp
2
: to become caught
The kite caught in the tree branches.
3
: to catch fire
4
: to play the position of catcher on a baseball team
5
: kick over
the engine caught
catchable adjective
an easily catchable fly ball

catch

2 of 2

noun

1
: something caught
especially : the total quantity caught at one time
a large catch of fish
2
a
: the act, action, or fact of catching
The shortstop made a tough catch.
b
: a game in which a ball is thrown and caught
played catch with his dad
3
: something that checks or holds immovable
a safety catch
4
: one worth catching especially as a spouse
5
: a round for three or more unaccompanied usually male voices often with suggestive or obscene lyrics
6
: fragment, snatch
remembered only catches of the song
7
: a concealed difficulty or complication
there must be a catch
8
: a momentary audible break in the voice or breath
Phrases
catch a crab
: to fail to raise an oar clear of the water on recovery of a stroke
catch dead
: to find or see at any time
used in strongly negative constructions
wouldn't be caught dead in that shirt
catch fire
1
: to become ignited
2
: to become fired with enthusiasm
3
: to increase greatly in scope, popularity, interest, or effectiveness
this stock has not caught fire—yetForbes
catch it
: to incur blame, reprimand, or punishment
He'll really catch it from the boss if he's late again.
catch one's breath
: to rest long enough to restore normal breathing
broadly : to rest after a period of intense activity
Choose the Right Synonym for catch

catch, capture, trap, snare, entrap, ensnare, bag mean to come to possess or control by or as if by seizing.

catch implies the seizing of something in motion or in flight or in hiding.

caught the dog as it ran by

capture suggests taking by overcoming resistance or difficulty.

capture an enemy stronghold

trap, snare, entrap, ensnare imply seizing by some device that holds the one caught at the mercy of the captor.

trap and snare apply more commonly to physical seizing.

trap animals
snared butterflies with a net

entrap and ensnare more often are figurative.

entrapped the witness with a trick question
a sting operation that ensnared burglars

bag implies shooting down a fleeing or distant prey.

bagged a brace of pheasants

Examples of catch in a Sentence

Verb Catch the ball and throw it to first base. She caught the ball with one hand. I dropped the book but managed to catch it before it hit the ground. I'll throw you the keys. Ready? Catch! He caught hold of her wrist. The police are working hard to catch the criminals and put them in jail. “I bet you can't catch me!” she yelled to her brother. I once caught 10 fish in a single day. In the summer, we would catch fireflies and put them in jars. I caught her just as she was leaving for work. Noun The shortstop made a tough catch. She used to play catch with her dad. Let's play a game of catch. a catch of about 20 fish See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
More than a month later Cheyenne left the house to catch a bus and was never seen again. Kc Baker, Peoplemag, 24 Feb. 2024 After defying the nation’s stock slump in the past three years, quants were caught off guard by rapid market shifts and government intervention in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year holiday. Bloomberg, Fortune Asia, 23 Feb. 2024 She was last seen at 7 a.m., leaving her home to catch the school bus. Amaris Encinas, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 The mobile comes loaded with all the latest and greatest premium features that people have come to expect, including one that really caught our eye—a Leica camera. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 23 Feb. 2024 One of the best places to catch the annual cherry blossom bloom is on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, where the renowned Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park sprawls. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 23 Feb. 2024 Two children died when they were caught in a landslide early Thursday near a Shasta Dam campground, officials confirmed. Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 And although teammate caught the game-winning catch, Mahomes gave credit to Rice for helping set up the winning score. David Ammenheuser, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12 Feb. 2024 The pace of Phoenix’s transformation has caught many by surprise. Jeanne Whalen, Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2024
Noun
There had to be a catch, and there was: many people died in captivity. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 23 Feb. 2024 Democrats weigh in → Trump ahead in swing states — but there's a catch, poll says Topping the list was Abraham Lincoln, followed by Franklin Roosevelt and George Washington — all three of whom generally rank among the best American leaders. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 20 Feb. 2024 San Diego High’s Art Powell, one of the AFL’s all-time receivers, played for the Raiders and New York Titans, catching 81 touchdown passes and averaging 16.8 yards per catch. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Feb. 2024 Reed led the Packers in catches (64), which also broke the single-season receptions record by a Packers rookie previously held by Sterling Sharpe (55). Rob Reischel, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 The only catch is that this flash sale will only run while supplies last, and from the looks of it, select styles and sizes are already selling out quickly. Alexandra Domrongchai, Travel + Leisure, 16 Feb. 2024 Yet amid all the elaborate cultural festivity around the girl’s arrival at womanhood, there’s a sobering catch. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Related Articles The biggest catch will be money, and whether the Sharks would be willing to retain some of Labanc’s salary to help facilitate a deal. Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News, 15 Feb. 2024 Faith is a great catch, and any guy would be lucky to be in her orbit. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'catch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English cacchen, from Anglo-French cacher, chacher, chacer to hunt, from Vulgar Latin *captiare, alteration of Latin captare to chase, frequentative of capere to take — more at heave entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of catch was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near catch

Cite this Entry

“Catch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/catch. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

catch

1 of 2 verb
ˈkach How to pronounce catch (audio)
ˈkech
caught ˈkȯt How to pronounce catch (audio) ; catching
1
a
: to capture or seize in flight or motion
catch butterflies
catch a ball
2
a
: to discover unexpectedly
was caught in the act
b
: to stop suddenly
caught himself before he gave away the secret
3
: to take hold of : snatch
4
a
: to get entangled
catch a sleeve on a nail
b
: to have the parts connect firmly
this lock will not catch
c
: to attach, join, or fasten tightly
5
: to fall sick with
catch a cold
6
: to take or get for a short time or quickly
catch a glimpse of a friend
catch a little sleep
7
a
: to catch up to
will have to hurry to catch the leaders
b
: to get aboard in time
catch the bus
8
: understand sense 1a
didn't catch what she said
9
: to play baseball as a catcher

catch

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: something caught
b
: the quantity caught at one time
a large catch of fish
2
a
: the act of catching
b
: a pastime in which a ball is thrown and caught
3
: something that checks, fastens, or holds immovable
a catch on a door
4
: one worth discovering or finding
5
: a round for three or more voices
6
: a hidden difficulty
there must be a catch
Etymology

Verb

Middle English cacchen "to catch," from early French cacher "to hunt," derived from Latin captare "to chase," from capere "to take" — related to capture

More from Merriam-Webster on catch

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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