Nearby words

  1. casuarina,
  2. casuist,
  3. casuistic,
  4. casuistry,
  5. casus belli,
  6. cat and mouse,
  7. cat brier,
  8. cat burglar,
  9. cat cafe,
  10. cat cracker


    bell the cat, to attempt something formidable or dangerous.
    let the cat out of the bag, to divulge a secret, especially inadvertently or carelessly: He let the cat out of the bag, and the surprise party wasn't a surprise after all.

Origin of cat

before 900; Middle English cat, catte, Old English catt (masculine), catte (feminine); cognate with Old Frisian, Middle Dutch katte, Old High German kazza, Old Norse kǫttr, Irish cat, Welsh cath (Slavic *kotŭ, Lithuanian katė̃ perhaps < Gmc), Late Latin cattus, catta (first attested in the 4th century, presumably with the introduction of domestic cats); ultimately origin obscure


[ kat ]
/ kæt /


a Caterpillar tractor.


clear-air turbulence.
Medicine/Medical. computerized axial tomography.
Compare CAT scanner.


a prefix meaning “down,” “against,” “back,” occurring originally in loanwords from Greek (cataclysm; catalog; catalepsy); on this model, used in the formation of other compound words (catagenesis; cataphyll).
Also especially before a vowel, cat-; cath-, kata-.

Origin of cata-

< Greek kata-, combining form of katá down, through, against, according to, towards, during


catalog; catalogue. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cat

British Dictionary definitions for cat


/ (kæt) /


verb cats, catting or catted

Derived Formscatlike, adjectivecattish, adjective

Word Origin for cat

Old English catte, from Latin cattus; related to Old Norse köttr, Old High German kazza, Old French chat, Russian kot


informal short for catamaran (def. 1)


  1. short for catalytic converter
  2. (as modifier)a cat car


short for catalytic a cat cracker


abbreviation for

computer-aided teaching
computer-assisted trading


abbreviation for



kata-, before an aspirate cath- or before a vowel cat-


down; downwards; lower in positioncatadromous; cataphyll
indicating reversal, opposition, degeneration, etccataplasia; catatonia

Word Origin for cata-

from Greek kata-, from kata. In compound words borrowed from Greek, kata- means: down (catabolism), away, off (catalectic), against (category), according to (catholic), and thoroughly (catalogue)

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

Word Origin and History for cat
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for cat



computerized axial tomography



Reverse; backward; degenerative:cataplasia.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with cat


In addition to the idioms beginning with cat

  • cat got one's tongue

also see:

  • alley cat
  • bell the cat
  • curiosity killed the cat
  • fat cat
  • grin like a Cheshire cat
  • let the cat out of the bag
  • like a cat on a hot brick
  • look like something the cat dragged in
  • look like the cat that ate the canary
  • more than one way to skin a cat
  • not enough room to swing a cat
  • play cat and mouse
  • rain cats and dogs
  • when the cat's away
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.