1 of 4

noun (1)

catch·​up ˈke-chəp How to pronounce catchup (audio) ˈka- How to pronounce catchup (audio)

less common spelling of ketchup

: a seasoned pureed condiment usually made from tomatoes


2 of 4


ˈkach-ˌəp How to pronounce catch-up (audio)
: intended to catch up to a theoretical norm or a competitor's accomplishments


3 of 4

noun (2)

: the act or fact of catching up or trying to catch up (as with a norm or competitor)
had to play catch-up
also : an increase intended to achieve catch-up

catch up

4 of 4


caught up; catching up; catches up

transitive verb

: to pick up often abruptly
the thief caught the purse up and ran
: ensnare, entangle
education has been caught up in a stultifying mythologyN. M. Pusey
: enthrall
the … public was caught up in the car's magicD. A. Jedlicka
: to provide with the latest information
catch me up on the news

intransitive verb

: to travel fast enough to overtake an advance party
The soldier ran to catch up with his unit.
: to reach a state of parity (see parity sense 1) or of being able to cope
students who miss class have difficulty catching up
: to bring about arrest for illicit activities
the police caught up with the thieves
: to complete or compensate (see compensate sense 1) for something belatedly
catch up on lost sleep
: to acquire belated information
catch up on the news

Example Sentences

Verb a young idealist who got caught up in the political fanaticism of the times completely caught up in opera ever since he saw La Traviata
Recent Examples on the Web
Google’s announcement followed pressure from investors who urged the company to catch-up with Microsoft, which had already incorporated ChatGPT into its own search engine, Bing. Naomi Nix, Washington Post, 14 May 2023 People do that, turning striking into a catch-up at Runyon. Anonymous, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 May 2023 Like at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Reddy said preventive screening rates at the Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center have returned overall to pre-pandemic norms, although doctors are still fielding some residual catch-up appointments, especially for underserved populations. Marin Wolf, Dallas News, 5 May 2023 The time off can be used for academic catch-up or enrichment. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2023 Even though no one under the age of 40 watches just about anything on broadcast television, and even on catch-up digital platforms, there is still an audience there. Vulture, 2 May 2023 The catch-up contribution limit has increased for individuals aged 60 and older. Andres Garcia-amaya, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2023 Oscars catch-up Credit: Photo by Jonathan Hession. Debby Wolfinsohn,, 11 Apr. 2023 Thompson returned an on-side kick 7 yards for a score as the Rattlers tried to play catch-up. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 8 Apr. 2023
Those 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. Medora Lee, USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2023 Next week's rain potential has shifted slower, so the deficit should grow until potential activity Thu-Sat for a stronger catch-up attempt. David Streit, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2023 Adient and Boeing Encore Interiors set about imagining an elevated short-haul business class: a lie-flat bed, loads of storage for luggage, minibar, library and space for another passenger to join you for a meeting or catch-up. Francesca Street, CNN, 14 Mar. 2023 That catch-up comes courtesy of Courteney Cox's reporter Gale Weathers and arrives after Ghostface has embarked on his latest murder spree. Clark Collis,, 13 Mar. 2023 Consider inviting someone over for a cathartic catch-up! Chicago Tribune, 1 Mar. 2023 Preceding the inclusion revolution—and a great example of playing digital catch-up—is the issue of privacy. Niv Penso, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2023
Fonde Elementary School in Mobile has been operating on a year-round calendar for six years, using a 180-day regular calendar and offering multiple week-long intersessions for students to catch up, Mobile County spokesperson Rena Philips said. Trisha Powell Crain |, al, 21 Apr. 2023 Reality was bound to catch up. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 21 Apr. 2023 The delivery driver threw out a jab of a kick that tripped the runner and allowed officers to catch up, the video shows. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 17 Apr. 2023 Farmers in the Central Valley planted more acres of tomatoes this year to catch up, Sumner said, making the winter storms' damage all the more devastating. Cara Korte, CBS News, 8 Apr. 2023 Tony and the painting needed to wait for the technology to catch up with them. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 5 Apr. 2023 The tickets must also be booked via Google, and the guarantee may be voided if carriers update prices before the search engine’s algorithm has time to catch up. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 4 Apr. 2023 Fans are letting their wallets do the talking until the N.C.A.A. catches up. Talya Minsberg, New York Times, 3 Apr. 2023 The Timbers nearly brought the match back level in the 77th minute as Mosquera caught up to a perfect ball ahead, but his shot was saved miraculously by Paes with his torso. oregonlive, 1 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History



see catch entry 1

First Known Use


1879, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1885, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of catchup was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near catchup

Cite this Entry

“Catchup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2

variant of ketchup

catch up

2 of 2 verb
: to pick up suddenly or quickly
caught the mouse up by the tail
: to go fast enough to get even with someone ahead
trying to catch up with the rest of the class
: to bring oneself up to date
have to catch up on my homework
catch up on the news
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