\ˈkach, ˈkech\
caught\ˈkȯt 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

c : deceive

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 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

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 my attention caught her eye

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 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



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

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Other Words from catch


catchable \ˈka-​chə-​bəl, ˈke-​ \ adjective
an easily catchable fly ball

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


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.

Examples of catch in a Sentence


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.


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That caught the eye of longtime District Attorney Mike Ramsey. Paul Elias, The Seattle Times, "Back-to-back crises boost California sheriff’s profile," 28 Nov. 2018 Ralph and Vanellope meet a lot of fun new characters online — including Gal Gadot as Shank, who occupies an online racing game that catches Vanellope’s eye, and Disney regular Alan Tudyk as an old-fashioned search engine named Knowsmore. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Ralph Breaks the Internet is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but for the internet," 21 Nov. 2018 While shopping at the latter, a pile of Kit Kat bags caught my eye. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Yes, we flew to Japan to watch someone pour liquid nitrogen on custom Kit Kats," 28 Oct. 2018 This year five gifts caught our eye, including a trip to all four tennis majors with 2017 U.S. open winner Sloane Stephens and a $7 million Serenity Solar Yacht, with interior designed by Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts for the Try-Anything Traveler," 18 Oct. 2018 Bella plays a stripper who apparently has caught Abel's eye. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Complete Timeline of Bella Hadid and The Weeknd's Relationship," 12 Oct. 2018 In spite of her family pedigree and impressive personal accomplishments, Isabella is most famous in many circles for catching the eye of Prince William in 2004. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Who Is Isabella Calthorpe? What You Need to Know About Prince William's Rumored Former Crush," 23 Sep. 2018 Reddit is full of skin-care advice (some tidbits more reputable than others) but a recent post in the SkincareAddiction subreddit caught our eye. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "Can Dryer Sheets Cause Acne and Irritation? Dermatologists Weigh In," 21 Sep. 2018 As eye-catching as 10,000 planets are, the particularly important number here is the 3,500 sub-Neptune worlds, Christiansen said. Meghan Bartels,, "New NASA Planet Hunter May Find 10,000 Alien Worlds in Just Two Years," 8 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Inflammatory bowel disease is a catch-all term for disorders that cause persistent inflammation in your GI system, the Mayo Clinic explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "13 Surprising Medical Conditions That Can Cause Weight Gain or Loss (and When to Go to the Doctor)," 12 Nov. 2018 But many see a future in parking, especially in rebranding the service as part of curb management, an emerging catch-all term for digital means of managing the streetscape. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Why valet parking is the future of smarter urban transit," 6 Aug. 2018 As right fielder Joey Rickard made a diving catch of Miguel Andujar’s pop foul down the line, Schoop, the second baseman, inadvertently kicked Rickard’s glove off and the ball popped loose. New York Times, "Loss to Orioles Offers Yankees a Glimpse of What They Could Acquire," 10 July 2018 On a 1-0 pitch, Reds shortstop Jose Peraza hit a line drive into the right-center gap where Heyward stunned the crowd with a diving catch while running to his right. Bobby Nightengale,, "Tyler Mahle pitches well again, Raisel Iglesias holds off Cubs in Cincinnati Reds win," 6 July 2018 The team did however make several standout defensive plays to hang around, including a diving catch by centerfielder Holly Daum in the first inning that resulted in a double play that kept the game tied. Brent Kennedy, Howard County Times, "Huntingtown softball shuts out Reservoir in 3A state semifinals," 24 May 2018 Racing halfway across China Basin to the scene, and in grave danger of being trampled by right fielder Scott Schebler, Gennett somehow made a lunging catch in fair territory to stun the crowd and prevent a tie game. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "In this year’s NL West, Giants’ record is no catastrophe," 16 May 2018 Apple has to play catch-up in the market, so Siri Shortcuts will be somewhat essential for that task. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Volkswagen now lets Apple users unlock their car with Siri," 12 Nov. 2018 For example, the limit on catch-up contributions—contributions people 50 years or older can make on top of regular limits—will not be increasing in 2019 from the current $6,000 for 401(k) plans. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Taxpayers Can Put More Into Retirement Accounts in 2019, IRS Says," 1 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of catch


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Statistics for catch

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for catch

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

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More Definitions for catch



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, 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on catch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with catch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to enclose within walls

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