\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

Keep that area clear of dish rags, pot holders, pasta boxes, paper towels, food wrappers, wooden spoons, and anything else that might catch a flame. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Emergency Responders Share 9 of the Biggest Death Traps in Your Home," 14 July 2018 Rebic has been a major part of Croatia's World Cup campaign, which has seen them reach the final after a 2-1 win over England last night, and his impressive performances have reportedly caught the eye of a number of teams., "Eintracht Frankfurt Director Admits Croatia International Could Leave With Man Utd Interested," 12 July 2018 Although an experienced angler who has caught more than 50 legal muskies in the area, Ewert decided to try trolling for the first time. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Extraordinary musky fishing tale, verified and true, comes to happy ending," 11 July 2018 One of the things that caught our eye on the Colony food menu: the sauces. Robert Philpot, star-telegram, "A Montgomery Plaza restaurant graveyard is getting new ‘Bones’ —and more," 11 July 2018 Jitoboh is a massive center who has caught the eye of several SEC programs. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "Big Board 2.0: Updated look at Class of 2019 prospects on Louisville basketball's wish list," 10 July 2018 Also catching officials’ eye is a tax exemption Williams secured for the offices in 2008 because of the lease for government office space. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Assessor: 'Multiple discrepancies' in Porter County tax exemption documents," 9 July 2018 What had caught my eye, at first, was the name of the restaurant, a familiar and favorite place near The Chronicle, and then, the picture of Nguyen. Leah Garchik,, "It’s a perilous day in the neighborhood," 8 July 2018 The hashtag that really caught fans' eyes, of course, was the first one: #lastwomanstanding. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Maisie Williams Might Have Spoiled the End of 'Game of Thrones' With This Instagram Post," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The biomass, or mass of fish found in this area worldwide, is equivalent to a hundred times the Earth’s global catch of seafood, according to the New York Times. Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic, "Why Great White Sharks Hang Out in Warm Whirlpools," 19 June 2018 Texas colorist Liz Haven helped the trend catch fire with a few recent Instagram videos depicting the strandlighting process. Marci Robin, Allure, "The "Strandlights" Technique Is a Trendy New Way to Add Natural-Looking Highlights to Your Hair," 18 June 2018 The catch and the danger is that there is a lot of competition on sites like these. Steve Strauss, USA TODAY, "Get your gig: Here are the 9 best sites to visit for freelance or contract work," 12 July 2018 The catch: the entire dress was made of out Duck Tape. Wzzm-tv (grand Rapids), Detroit Free Press, "Michigan teen wears Duck Tape prom dress, wins scholarship," 9 July 2018 The catch: They are all dressed in bikinis and high heels, as if this is the swimsuit round in Miss America. Becca Smouse, azcentral, "ABC's 'Bachelor' dating spinoff 'The Proposal' is ... kind of icky," 2 July 2018 Here’s the catch: Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) did not win a parliamentary majority. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Why Turkish President Erdogan Is Not as All-Powerful as He Seems," 28 June 2018 The catch is that the hosts needed to give up their bodies to do it. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Westworld Finale: Let's Break Down Every Bonkers Thing That Happened," 25 June 2018 The only catch is, all his work has been for other people. Kat Bein, Billboard, "JHart Faces Himself, Turns Therapy Sessions Into Dance Songs on 'Put It to Bed': Listen," 22 June 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

11 Oct 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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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