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cata-

  1. 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).
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Also especially before a vowel, cat-; cath-, kata-.

Origin of cata-

< Greek kata-, combining form of katá down, through, against, according to, towards, during
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for cata-

cata-

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

prefix
  1. down; downwards; lower in positioncatadromous; cataphyll
  2. indicating reversal, opposition, degeneration, etccataplasia; catatonia
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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 cata-

word-forming element from Latinized form of Greek kata-, before vowels kat-, from kata "down from, down to." Its principal sense is "down," but occasionally it has senses of "against" (catapult)or "wrongly" (catachresis). Also sometimes used as an intensive or with a sense of completion of action (catalogue). Very active in ancient Greek, this prefix is found in English mostly in words borrowed through Latin after c.1500.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cata- in Medicine

cata-

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