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90s Slang You Should Know


[kat-uh-rakt] /ˈkæt əˌrækt/
a descent of water over a steep surface; a waterfall, especially one of considerable size.
any furious rush or downpour of water; deluge.
  1. an abnormality of the eye, characterized by opacity of the lens.
  2. the opaque area.
Origin of cataract
1350-1400; Middle English cataracte < Latin catar(r)acta < Greek katarráktēs waterfall, floodgate, portcullis (noun), downrushing (adj.), akin to katarássein to dash down, equivalent to kat- cata- + arássein to smite
Related forms
cataractal, cataractous, adjective
cataracted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cataract
Historical Examples
  • Asshur-bani-pal's power extended from the range of Niphates to the First cataract.

    History of Phoenicia George Rawlinson
  • Two rocks on the precipice separate the cataract into three divisions.

    Down the Rhine Oliver Optic
  • Slowly and sternly it moved toward the roaring edge of the cataract.

  • There was little accuracy in the estimates of the first observers of the cataract.

  • It was very hard work, as we had to run and leap and scramble along the slippery and jagged rocks alongside the cataract.

  • The edge of the cataract is crimped by indentations which exalt its beauty.

  • This put them all in a good-natured mood, and the “cataract” went home.

  • You will wake him if you talk so loud,” said Pepé; “your voice roars like a cataract.

    Wood Rangers Mayne Reid
  • The cataract of Tequendama, although not the largest in the world, yet affords a very beautiful sight.

  • Here a cataract, there a rapid; now lingering in some corner of beauty, as if loath to go.

    Spare Hours John Brown
British Dictionary definitions for cataract


a large waterfall or rapids
a deluge; downpour
  1. partial or total opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye
  2. the opaque area
Word Origin
C15: from Latin catarracta, from Greek katarrhaktēs, from katarassein to dash down, from arassein to strike
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cataract

early 15c., "a waterfall, floodgate," from Latin cataracta "waterfall," from Greek katarhaktes "waterfall, broken water; a kind of portcullis," noun use of an adjective compound meaning "swooping, down-rushing," from kata "down" (see cata-). The second element is traced either to arhattein "to strike hard" (in which case the compound is kat-arrhattein), or to rhattein "to dash, break."

Its alternative sense in Latin of "portcullis" probably was passed through French to form the English meaning "eye disease" (early 15c.), on the notion of "obstruction" (to eyesight).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cataract in Medicine

cataract cat·a·ract (kāt'ə-rākt')
Opacity of the lens or capsule of the eye, causing impairment of vision or blindness.

cat'a·rac'tous (-rāk'təs) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cataract in Science
  1. An opacity of the lens of the eye or the membrane that covers it, causing impairment of vision or blindness.

  2. A waterfall in which a large volume of water flows over a steep precipice.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cataract in Culture
cataract [(kat-uh-rakt)]

A loss in the transparency of the lens of the eye, which reduces a person's ability to see. The condition can be treated by surgically removing the lens and replacing it with an artificial one, or with corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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