View synonyms for catch


[ kach ]

verb (used with object)

, caught, catch·ing.
  1. to seize or capture, especially after pursuit: to catch a runaway horse.

    to catch a criminal;

    to catch a runaway horse.

    Synonyms: arrest, apprehend

    Antonyms: release

  2. to trap or ensnare:

    to catch a fish.

  3. to intercept and seize; take and hold (something thrown, falling, etc.): a barrel to catch rain.

    to catch a ball;

    a barrel to catch rain.

  4. to come upon suddenly; surprise or detect, as in some action:

    I caught him stealing the pumpkin.

  5. to receive, incur, or contract:

    to catch a cold.

  6. to be in time to get aboard (a train, boat, etc.).
  7. to lay hold of; grasp; clasp:

    He caught her in a warm embrace.

    Antonyms: release

  8. to grip, hook, or entangle:

    The sharp branches caught his clothing.

  9. to allow (something) to become gripped, hooked, snagged, or entangled:

    He caught his coat on a nail.

  10. to attract or arrest: His speech caught our attention.

    The painting caught his fancy.

    His speech caught our attention.

  11. to check or restrain suddenly (often used reflexively): He caught himself before he said the wrong thing.

    She caught her breath in surprise.

    He caught himself before he said the wrong thing.

  12. to see or attend:

    to catch a show.

  13. to strike; hit:

    The blow caught him on the head.

  14. to become inspired by or aware of:

    I caught the spirit of the occasion.

  15. to fasten with or as if with a catch:

    to catch the clasp on a necklace.

  16. to deceive:

    No one was caught by his sugary words.

  17. to attract the attention of; captivate; charm:

    She was caught by his smile and good nature.

    Synonyms: win, fascinate, enchant

  18. to grasp with the intellect; comprehend:

    She failed to catch his meaning.

  19. to hear clearly:

    We caught only snatches of their conversation.

  20. to apprehend and record; capture:

    The painting caught her expression perfectly.

  21. South Midland and Southern U.S. to assist at the birth of:

    The town doctor caught more than four hundred children before he retired.

verb (used without object)

, caught, catch·ing.
  1. to become gripped, hooked, or entangled:

    Her foot caught in the net.

  2. to overtake someone or something moving (usually followed by up, up with, or up to ).
  3. to take hold:

    The door lock doesn't catch.

  4. Baseball. to play the position of catcher:

    He catches for the Yankees.

  5. to become lighted; take fire; ignite:

    The kindling caught instantly.

  6. to become established, as a crop or plant, after germination and sprouting.


  1. the act of catching.

    Synonyms: arrest, apprehension, capture

  2. anything that catches, especially a device for checking motion, as a latch on a door.

    Synonyms: bolt, ratchet

  3. any tricky or concealed drawback:

    It seems so easy that there must be a catch somewhere.

  4. a slight, momentary break or crack in the voice.
  5. that which is caught, as a quantity of fish:

    The fisherman brought home a large catch.

  6. a person or thing worth getting, especially a person regarded as a desirable matrimonial prospect:

    My mother thinks Pat would be quite a catch.

  7. a game in which a ball is thrown from one person to another: to have a catch.

    to play catch;

    to have a catch.

  8. catches of a song.

  9. Music. a round, especially one in which the words are so arranged as to produce ludicrous effects.
  10. Sports. the catching and holding of a batted or thrown ball before it touches the ground.
  11. Rowing. the first part of the stroke, consisting of the placing of the oar into the water.
  12. Agriculture. the establishment of a crop from seed:

    a catch of clover.


verb phrase

  1. to grasp at eagerly; accept readily:

    He caught at the chance to get free tickets.

  2. Chiefly British. to catch or discover (a person) in deceit or an error.
    1. to become popular:

      That new song is beginning to catch on.

    2. to grasp mentally; understand:

      You'd think he'd catch on that he's boring us.

    3. New England. (in cooking) to scorch or burn slightly; sear:

      A pot roast is better if allowed to catch on.

    1. to lift or snatch suddenly:

      Leaves were caught up in the wind.

    2. to bring or get up to date (often followed by on or with ):

      to catch up on one's reading.

    3. to come up to or overtake (something or someone) (usually followed by with ):

      to catch up with the leader in a race.

    4. to become involved or entangled with:

      caught up in the excitement of the crowd.

    5. to point out to (a person) minor errors, untruths, etc. (usually followed by on ):

      We caught the teacher up on a number of factual details.

    6. Falconry. to capture for further training (a hawk that has been flown at hack).
    7. South Midland and Southern U.S. to harness (a horse or mule).


/ kætʃ /


  1. tr to take hold of so as to retain or restrain

    he caught the ball

  2. tr to take, seize, or capture, esp after pursuit
  3. tr to ensnare or deceive, as by trickery
  4. tr to surprise or detect in an act

    he caught the dog rifling the larder

  5. tr to reach with a blow

    the stone caught him on the side of the head

  6. tr to overtake or reach in time to board

    if we hurry we should catch the next bus

  7. tr to see or hear; attend

    I didn't catch the Ibsen play

  8. tr to be infected with

    to catch a cold

  9. to hook or entangle or become hooked or entangled

    her dress caught on a nail

  10. to fasten or be fastened with or as if with a latch or other device
  11. tr to attract or arrest

    she tried to catch his eye

  12. tr to comprehend

    I didn't catch his meaning

  13. tr to hear accurately

    I didn't catch what you said

  14. tr to captivate or charm
  15. tr to perceive and reproduce accurately

    the painter managed to catch his model's beauty

  16. tr to hold back or restrain

    he caught his breath in surprise

  17. intr to become alight

    the fire won't catch

  18. tr cricket to dismiss (a batsman) by intercepting and holding a ball struck by him before it touches the ground
  19. introften foll byat
    1. to grasp or attempt to grasp
    2. to take advantage (of), esp eagerly

      he caught at the chance

  20. informal.
    intr; used passively to make pregnant
  21. catch it informal.
    to be scolded or reprimanded
  22. catch oneself on slang.
    to realize that one's actions are mistaken


  1. the act of catching or grasping
  2. a device that catches and fastens, such as a latch
  3. anything that is caught, esp something worth catching
  4. the amount or number caught
  5. informal.
    a person regarded as an eligible matrimonial prospect
  6. a check or break in the voice
  7. a break in a mechanism
  8. informal.
    1. a concealed, unexpected, or unforeseen drawback or handicap
    2. ( as modifier )

      a catch question

  9. a game in which a ball is thrown from one player to another
  10. cricket the catching of a ball struck by a batsman before it touches the ground, resulting in him being out
  11. music a type of round popular in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, having a humorous text that is often indecent or bawdy and hard to articulate See round canon 1

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Derived Forms

  • ˈcatchable, adjective

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Other Words From

  • catch·a·ble adjective
  • out·catch verb (used with object) outcaught outcatching
  • un·catch·a·ble adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of catch1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English cacchen “to chase, capture,” from Old North French cachier, from unattested Vulgar Latin captiāre, for Latin captāre “to grasp at, seek out, try to catch,” frequentative of capere “to take”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of catch1

C13 cacchen to pursue, from Old Northern French cachier, from Latin captāre to snatch, from capere to seize

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. catch a crab, (in rowing) to bungle a stroke by failing to get the oar into the water at the beginning or by failing to withdraw it properly at the end.
  2. catch a turn, Nautical. to wind a rope around a bitt, capstan, etc., for one full turn.
  3. catch it, Informal. to receive a reprimand or punishment:

    He'll catch it from his mother for tearing his good trousers again.

  4. catch lightning in a bottle. catch lightning in a bottle.
  5. catch one’s death (of cold). death ( def 14 ).

More idioms and phrases containing catch

  • early bird catches the worm
  • get (catch) the drift
  • takes one to know one (a thief to catch a thief)
  • caught

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Synonym Study

Catch, clutch, grasp, seize imply taking hold suddenly of something. To catch may be to reach after and get: He caught my hand. To clutch is to take firm hold of (often out of fear or nervousness), and retain: The child clutched her mother's hand. To grasp also suggests both getting and keeping hold of, with a connotation of eagerness and alertness, rather than fear (literally or figuratively): to grasp someone's hand in welcome; to grasp an idea. To seize implies the use of force or energy in taking hold of suddenly (literally or figuratively): to seize a criminal; to seize an opportunity.

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Example Sentences

Canix caught the eye of several critical investors in its short life.

How to vote in your stateOn the pandemic, fears of becoming infected persist, with more than 6 in 10 Minnesota voters “very” or “somewhat” worried about an immediate family member catching the novel coronavirus.

To find out more about how his company is navigating through current challenges and what the future holds for business travel, Fortune recently caught up with Cohen—several weeks after the CEO made his first work trip in months.

From Fortune

The engineers are working hard to meet their deadlines, and this reporter even caught Gil pulling aside some engineers to tell them to remember to take time off.

From Fortune

It didn’t take me long to realize that catching star-nosed moles did not include hopping from stone to stone along clear mountain streams like a wood elf.

They all immediately dashed out to their car to catch the bad guys.

“The government just wanted to catch the big fish [in the Juarez cartel] and they ignored everything in between,” Lozoya said.

From a lyrical standpoint, there are precious few that can catch Kendrick.

With Rick, I think the culture just lags behind great artists much of the time, and it takes time for it to catch up.

Phone lines would catch fire from the velocity and ferocity of his words.

While you were admiring the long roll of the wave, a sudden spray would be dashed over you, and make you catch your breath!

If I could catch Laura's eye—but I suppose it would hardly be decent to go just yet.

Then Squinty would toss the apple up in the air, off his nose, and catch it as it came down.

But what if I catch the fish by using a hired boat and a hired net, or by buying worms as bait from some one who has dug them?

We nearly played our horses out galloping around looking for you—after we'd gone a mile or so, and you didn't catch up.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.