[ kuh-thek-sis ]
/ kəˈθɛk sɪs /

noun, plural ca·thex·es [kuh-thek-seez] /kəˈθɛk siz/. Psychoanalysis.

the investment of emotional significance in an activity, object, or idea.
the charge of psychic energy so invested.

Nearby words

  1. catheter,
  2. catheter embolus,
  3. catheterization,
  4. catheterize,
  5. cathetus,
  6. cathie,
  7. cathisma,
  8. cathleen,
  9. catho,
  10. cathodal

Origin of cathexis

1920–25; < New Latin < Greek káthexis a keeping, equivalent to kathek- (variant stem of katéchein to keep, hold on to, equivalent to kat- cat- + échein to have, hold) + -sis -sis, as translation of German Besetzung a taking possession of (Freud's term)

Related formsca·thec·tic [kuh-thek-tik] /kəˈθɛk tɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cathectic


/ (kəˈθɛktɪk) /


of or relating to cathexis


/ (kəˈθɛksɪs) /

noun plural -thexes (-ˈθɛksiːz)

psychoanal concentration of psychic energy on a single goal

Word Origin for cathexis

C20: from New Latin, from Greek kathexis, from katekhein to hold fast, intended to render German Besetzung a taking possession of

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 cathectic



1922, from Latinized form of Greek kathexis "holding, retention," from PIE root *segh- "to hold" (see scheme (n.)). Used by psychologists to render Freud's (libido)besetzung.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for cathectic


[ kə-thĕktĭk ]


Of or relating to cathexis.


[ kə-thĕksĭs ]

n. pl. ca•thex•es (-thĕksēz)

Concentration of emotional energy on an object or idea.

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