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[kach-uh z-kach-kan] /ˈkætʃ əzˈkætʃˈkæn/
Also, catch-can. taking advantage of any opportunity; using any method that can be applied:
a catch-as-catch-can life, as an itinerant handyman.
without specific plan or order:
They lived catch-as-catch-can.
a style of wrestling in which the contestants are permitted to trip, tackle, and use holds below the waist.
Compare Greco-Roman (def 3).
Origin of catch-as-catch-can
First recorded in 1885-90 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for catch-as-catch-can
Historical Examples
  • It was catch-as-catch-can in the darkness, and mostly the other fellow could and did.

  • Anyhow, drawled the man from catch-as-catch-can, she wont go no more.

    Every Man for Himself Norman Duncan
  • Swords, pistols, fists, catch-as-catch-can—what would you like?

    Second Plays A. A. Milne
  • Still, they all fight alike—rough and tumble, catch-as-catch-can.

    Cappy Ricks Peter B. Kyne
  • Are you going to have a waltz, or is it going to be a two-step, or a catch-as-catch-can wrestling match?

    Ted Strong in Montana

    Edward C. Taylor
  • The men of catch-as-catch-can were incapable of a word; they were amazed beyond speech.

    Every Man for Himself Norman Duncan
  • Ree stipulated but one thing, as he threw off his coat and made ready, this was that the wrestling should be “catch-as-catch-can.”

    Far Past the Frontier James A. Braden
  • It was a catch-as-catch-can match, and for an instant the two big fellows stood warily watching each other before they advanced.

  • "Well, catch-as-catch-can then," said the country boy, advancing toward Roger slowly.

    The White Crystals Howard R. Garis
  • Except in the country the old-time, catch-as-catch-can general practitioner appears to be dying out.

British Dictionary definitions for catch-as-catch-can


a style of wrestling in which trips, holds below the waist, etc, are allowed
adjective, adverb
(mainly US & Canadian) using any method or opportunity that comes to hand
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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catch-as-catch-can in Culture

catch-as-catch-can definition

A phrase that describes a situation in which people must improvise or do what they can with limited means: “We don't have enough textbooks for all of the students, so it'll be catch-as-catch-can.”

The 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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Slang definitions & phrases for catch-as-catch-can



Precarious; requiring keen readiness: We lived a catch-as-catch-can life those first few years (1880s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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