in·​ter·​cept | \ ˌin-tər-ˈsept How to pronounce intercept (audio) \
intercepted; intercepting; intercepts

Definition of intercept

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to stop, seize, or interrupt in progress or course or before arrival
b : to receive (a communication or signal directed elsewhere) usually secretly
2a : to gain possession of (an opponent's pass)
b : to intercept a pass thrown by (an opponent)
3 : to include (part of a curve, surface, or solid) between two points, curves, or surfaces the part of a circumference intercepted between two radii
4 obsolete : prevent, hinder
5 obsolete : to interrupt communication or connection with


in·​ter·​cept | \ ˈin-tər-ˌsept How to pronounce intercept (audio) \

Definition of intercept (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the distance from the origin to a point where a graph crosses a coordinate axis
2 : interception especially : the interception of a missile by an interceptor or of a target by a missile
3 : a message, code, or signal that is intercepted (as by monitoring radio communications)

Synonyms for intercept

Synonyms: Verb

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Since the prefix inter means "between", it's not hard to see how intercept was created. Arms shipments coming to a country are sometimes intercepted, but such interceptions can sometimes be understood as acts of war. In football, soccer, and basketball, players try to intercept the ball as it's being passed by the other team. In years gone by, letters and documents being carried between officers or officials were sometimes intercepted when the carrier was caught; today, when these communications are generally electronic, an intercepted email isn't actually stopped, but simply read secretly by a third party.

Examples of intercept in a Sentence

Verb Detectives have been intercepting her mail. The police intercepted him as he was walking out.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cowboys secondary coach Joe Whitt said defenders often think first to tackle, then to break up a pass and lastly to intercept a ball if given the opportunity. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, 8 Jan. 2022 Savard telegraphed rookie Gabriel Fortier’s bad pass at the blue line, jumping up to intercept it, juked past Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and beat Lagace. Eduardo A. Encina,, 28 Dec. 2021 North Royalton defensive back Andrew Kortan came from the back of Hudson receiver Shane Kilfoyle to nearly intercept what would have been a nice touchdown pass during this game on Oct. 8. John Kuntz, cleveland, 26 Dec. 2021 The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. Brent Lang, Variety, 15 Dec. 2021 Attempts to understand how scammers were able to intercept calls are inconclusive. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, 17 Dec. 2021 There’s also an inspirational piece for orchestra and choir for the launch of a spacecraft designed to intercept the comet. Jon Burlingame, Variety, 10 Dec. 2021 Vikings safeties teamed up to intercept one of Rush’s first-half passes; and another would-be interception was dropped. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, 2 Nov. 2021 When authorities are able to intercept such sales, the orphans are sent to Lwiro Primates to recover from the trauma of losing their mothers and their homes. The New Yorker, 20 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The entire intercept is flown hands-off, with the pilot only adjusting the throttle. Frank O’brien, Ars Technica, 4 Jan. 2022 The intercept, if successful, would take place northwest of Hawaii. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 22 June 2021 As part of the joint training, Belarusian fighter jets simulated an intercept, the ministry said. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 12 Nov. 2021 These are extraordinarily short intercept times compared to deflection approaches. Scientific American, 13 Oct. 2021 Israel claims the Iron Dome is around 90 percent effective, but even a high probability intercept rate can fall victim to sheer numbers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 13 May 2021 The technology could, for example, allow a F-22 that has run out of air-to-air missiles to share missile track data for an enemy cruise missile with a fully armed F-35, enabling the newer jet to make the intercept. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 15 Sep. 2021 Within days, the Department of Defense announced a ballistic missile intercept test had failed. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 2 June 2021 Other countries solve this problem by conducting the intercept farther from the tank, or using a smaller, more focused blast. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 30 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intercept.' 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 intercept


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for intercept


Middle English, from Latin interceptus, past participle of intercipere, from inter- + capere to take, seize — more at heave entry 1

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Time Traveler for intercept

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The first known use of intercept was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Intercept.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for intercept



English Language Learners Definition of intercept

: to stop and take someone or something that is going from one place to another place before that person or thing gets there
: to catch or receive (a pass made by an opponent)


in·​ter·​cept | \ ˌin-tər-ˈsept How to pronounce intercept (audio) \
intercepted; intercepting

Kids Definition of intercept

1 : to take, seize, or stop before reaching an intended destination intercept a message
2 : to catch (a football) passed by a member of the opposing team


transitive verb

Legal Definition of intercept

: to receive (a communication or signal directed elsewhere) usually secretly shall not be unlawful…for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where such person is a party to the communicationU.S. Code

Other Words from intercept

interception noun

More from Merriam-Webster on intercept

Nglish: Translation of intercept for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intercept for Arabic Speakers


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