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

Definition of catch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
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
2a : 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 passivewas 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
4a : 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
6a : 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.
9a : 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.
10a : 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
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 constructionswouldn'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



Definition of catch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something caught especially : the total quantity caught at one time a large catch of fish
2a : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from catch


catchable \ ˈka-​chə-​bəl How to pronounce catchable (audio) , ˈke-​ \ adjective
an easily catchable fly ball

Synonyms & Antonyms for catch

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Coronaviruses that cause the common cold don’t stimulate lasting antibodies, which is one reason people can catch colds repeatedly, Schaffner said. Scientific American, "Fauci Optimistic About COVID-19 Vaccines, Though Immunity Unknowns Complicate Development," 31 July 2020 Walleye are being caught in 40 to 42 feet of water from the Huron River to Vermilion, but expect to catch and release a lot of undersized fish. cleveland, "Yellow perch fishing finally returns to western Lake Erie: Northeast Ohio Fishing Report for the weekend of Friday, July 31," 30 July 2020 When another car approached theirs from the opposite direction, Nick swerved and lost control, causing the car to roll multiple times and catch fire, according to CBS Sacramento's report. Ashley Boucher,, "Calif. Family of 4 Die in Car Crash: They 'Represented Everything That Is Beautiful in This World'," 30 July 2020 Help catch and tag butterflies at this sanctuary, where more than 2,000 were tagged in 2019. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Band owls, climb trees and more on the popular NRF field trips, which are still on for 2020," 9 July 2020 Any team can catch fire and win one of these tournaments. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "How Overwatch League’s Summer Showdown gave fans a little March Madness in July," 8 July 2020 But many experts say the U.S. should be testing roughly 1 million to 3 million people daily to catch new cases and prevent flareups. Fortune, "CDC: U.S. coronavirus case count is roughly 10x higher than the 2.3 million confirmed so far," 26 June 2020 Send comfort in the form of an angel made to catch the sun’s light and color the room with either blue or pink glass and gleaming copper foil that will patina with time. Dana Holmes, CNN Underscored, "30 gifts for someone dealing with grief," 25 June 2020 This attachment comes with a basket to catch pulp and seeds and a spout to pour juice directly into a glass or pitcher. NBC News, "Why the KitchenAid Artisan Series Stand Mixer is my last mixer," 24 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With a runner on second in the eighth inning Friday, Laureano broke nearly straight backward on Nola’s liner and made the catch as his foot hit the warning track. Matt Kawahara,, "A’s Ramón Laureano exploring center field in depth," 1 Aug. 2020 Lovullo said the team initially thought Gallo had left the bag before the catch. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Chase Field roof might be open more often this season," 31 July 2020 This includes engineering on the Calvin Park/Sommerset Lane basin and Cheryl Ann Drive culvert, as well as the Skyview Drive storm sewer outfall improvements and Alla Drive catch basins. John Benson, cleveland, "Seven Hills gets proactive with storm and sanitary sewer flooding; water management task force presents solutions," 31 July 2020 Put an asterisk on the triple play because the ball hit the ground before Bryant made a diving catch, and the play wasn’t reviewable. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel return in big way to lead Cincinnati Reds to 12-7 win," 31 July 2020 Gardenhire originally held him out of the lineup for Monday's home opener with a sore back from the masterful catch, but Jones had other ideas. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' JaCoby Jones was angry. So he made the Royals pay," 30 July 2020 Whether Bryant made the catch or not didn't matter once third base umpire Larry Vanover signaled out. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Cubs turn questionable, unreviewable triple play in loss to Reds," 30 July 2020 That goes for stories mentioning Andre Johnson’s huge catch in 2010 that sent the Texans game in Washington, D.C., into overtime or John McClain’s weekly NFL power rankings that uses most every team's mascot except for one. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Washington’s NFL name change will save Houston Chronicle copy editors a headache," 13 July 2020 Evidence Njoku had only one catch during his Miami career. Thuc Nhi Nguyen Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "UCLA football officially adds four transfers," 13 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of catch


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for catch


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about catch

Time Traveler for catch

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for catch

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Catch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for catch


How to pronounce catch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of catch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to use your hands to stop and hold (an object that is moving through the air)
: to use your hands to grasp and hold onto (someone or something)
: to capture and not allow (a person, animal, or fish) to escape



English Language Learners Definition of catch (Entry 2 of 2)

: a hidden problem that makes something more complicated or difficult to do
: the act of stopping a moving object (such as a ball) and holding it in your hands : the act of catching something
: a game in which two or more people throw and catch a ball


\ ˈkach How to pronounce catch (audio) , ˈkech \
caught\ ˈkȯt \; catching

Kids Definition of catch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to capture and hold catch a ball catch fish
2 : to discover unexpectedly A policeman caught them breaking the window.
3 : to stop suddenly before doing something I caught myself before blurting out the secret.
4 : to take hold of As I was falling, Grandma caught my arm.
5 : to become affected by catch fire catch a cold
6 : to take or get briefly or quickly He caught a glimpse of the actor.
7 : to be in time for I'll catch the next bus.
8 : to grasp by the senses or the mind I didn't catch what you said.
9 : to play catcher on a baseball team
10 : to get tangled She caught her sleeve on a nail.
11 : to hold firmly : fasten The lock will not catch.
12 : to recover by resting I need to catch my breath.
catch on
1 : to realize something I finally caught on that he was teasing me.
2 : to become popular The new toy caught on quickly.
catch up
: to move or progress fast enough to join another



Kids Definition of catch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something caught : the amount caught at one time a large catch of fish
2 : the act of catching The shortstop made a great catch.
3 : a pastime in which a ball is thrown and caught
4 : something that checks, fastens, or holds immovable a catch on a door
5 : a hidden difficulty Dad got a raise, but there's a catch. He needs more training.

Choose the Right Synonym for catch


catch, capture, and trap mean to get possession or control of by or as if by seizing. catch is used for the act of trying to seize something or someone that is moving or hiding. Catch that dog! capture is used when there is a struggle or some other kind of difficulty. Police officers captured the robbers as they tried to flee. trap is used when there is use of a device that catches and holds the prey. He made a living by trapping animals.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on catch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for catch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with catch

Spanish Central: Translation of catch

Nglish: Translation of catch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of catch for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about catch

Comments on catch

What made you want to look up catch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!