\ 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

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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

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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Vikings safety Anthony Harris caught the ball and ran 20 yards for a pick six. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks defeat Minnesota Vikings in yet another thriller: 10 studs and duds," 3 Dec. 2019 Alabama wasn’t sure if the Tigers were going to punt or go for it on fourth-and-four, and got caught with 12 men on the field, effectively ending the game. Creg Stephenson |, al, " All-Access: Does 2019 Iron Bowl win change your opinion of Gus Malzahn?," 3 Dec. 2019 James White is the best pass-catching back in the NFL, and NRG Stadium is his personal Xanadu., "Patriots receivers catch more heat than passes from Tom Brady - The Boston Globe," 3 Dec. 2019 China’s obsession with facial-recognition has already seen the country use the technology for everything from catching jaywalkers to registering a mobile number. Jane Li, Quartz, "A new Chinese app allows people to use facial verification on their friends and acquaintances," 2 Dec. 2019 BankBot has been active since 2017, and apps from the malware family have been caught repeatedly infiltrating the Google Play Market. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Vulnerability in fully patched Android phones under active attack by bank thieves," 2 Dec. 2019 The pair was seen walking the streets together with Jacob's parents, and even catching a bus! Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Jacob Elordi Calls Zendaya “Super Dope” After They’re Spotted Vacationing Together," 2 Dec. 2019 Argentina’s production and labor minister, Dante Sica, said Trump’s announcement caught policymakers by surprise. Arkansas Online, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro under fire after Trump slaps tariffs," 2 Dec. 2019 But this was a receiver picking up a team on his back at times, catching seven passes for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde: DeVante Parker picks up Dolphins and carries them like he never has before | Commentary," 1 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harry was forced to play catch-up after starting the season on injured reserve and missing the first nine games., "Josh McDaniels," 4 Dec. 2019 Rams receiver Robert Woods had a career-high 172 receiving yards and tied his career high with 13 catches. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Rewind: Rams dismantle Cardinals in Arizona's worst loss of season," 1 Dec. 2019 Ekeler can also be an issue in the passing game, with 65 catches for 667 yards and six scores. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against the Chargers and predictions," 29 Nov. 2019 The only catch is that this one is worth several thousand dollars so, probably best not to do that. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Rihanna's Louis Vuitton Soccer Ball Bag is Such a Fun 90's Throwback," 28 Nov. 2019 That’s because property values in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods are still playing catch-up from the recession and housing crisis of 2008. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "In St. Paul, 2020 will be a tough tax year for low-value homes; here’s how to understand property taxes," 23 Nov. 2019 Auden Tate, the Bengals' leading receiver Sunday with four catches for 56 yards, suffered a cervical strain and a concussion on a hit late in the fourth quarter and left the field on a stretcher. Dave Clark,, "Tyler Boyd: 'There were opportunities to get me the ball' in Bengals' loss to Raiders," 19 Nov. 2019 More reaction: George Schroeder of USA Today: Florida State follows Taggart’s catch phrase and does something. oregonlive, "Willie Taggart had the same problems at Oregon that got him fired at FSU: Issues & Answers," 4 Nov. 2019 Investing in a preexisting company helps it play catch-up that much faster than figuring it all out in-house. Wired, "Google Needs Fitbit for Its Own Bigger Ambitions," 1 Nov. 2019

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


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

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Time Traveler for catch

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for catch

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Catch.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc.,'s%20breath. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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.

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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).


a period of high artistic development

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