Idioms

Origin of catch

1175–1225; Middle English cacchen to chase, capture < Old North French cachier < Vulgar Latin *captiāre, for Latin captāre to grasp at, seek out, try to catch, frequentative of capere to take
Related formscatch·a·ble, adjectiveout·catch, verb (used with object), out·caught, out·catch·ing.un·catch·a·ble, adjective

Synonym study

7. 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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for catch on (1 of 2)

catch on


verb (intr, adverb) informal

to become popular or fashionable
to grasp mentally; understand

British Dictionary definitions for catch on (2 of 2)

catch

/ (kætʃ) /

verb catches, catching or caught

noun

Derived Formscatchable, adjective

Word Origin for catch

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

Idioms and Phrases with catch on (1 of 2)

catch on


1

Understand, as in Aunt Mary doesn't catch on to any jokes. The verb to catch alone was used with this meaning from Shakespeare's time, on being added in the late 1800s. Also see get it, def. 2.

2

Become popular, as in This new dance is really beginning to catch on. [Late 1800s]

Idioms and Phrases with catch on (2 of 2)

catch


In addition to the idioms beginning with catch

  • catch as catch can
  • catch at
  • catch a Tartar
  • catch cold
  • catch fire
  • catch in the act
  • catch it
  • catch napping
  • catch off guard
  • catch on
  • catch one's breath
  • catch one's death (of cold)
  • catch red-handed
  • catch sight of
  • catch someone's eye
  • catch some rays
  • catch some z's
  • catch the drift
  • catch up

also see:

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

Also see undercaught.

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