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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for cata-


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

Medical definitions for cata-



Reverse; backward; degenerative:cataplasia.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.