See more synonyms for latch on
  1. a device for holding a door, gate, or the like, closed, consisting basically of a bar falling or sliding into a catch, groove, hole, etc.
verb (used with object)
  1. to close or fasten with a latch.
verb (used without object)
  1. to close tightly so that the latch is secured: The door won't latch.
Verb Phrases
  1. latch on,
    1. to grab or hold on, as to an object or idea, especially tightly or tenaciously.
    2. to include or add in; attach: If we latch the tax on, the bill will come to over $100.
  2. latch onto, Informal.
    1. to take possession of; obtain; get.
    2. to acquire understanding of; comprehend.
    3. to attach oneself to; join in with: The stray dog latched onto the children and wouldn't go home.

Origin of latch

before 950; 1930–35 for def 5; Middle English lacchen, Old English lǣccan to take hold of, catch, seize; akin to Greek lázesthai to take
Related formsre·latch, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for latch

clamp, bar, hook, fastening, bolt, catch, hasp, padlock, secure, lock, cinch, close

Examples from the Web for latch

Contemporary Examples of latch

Historical Examples of latch

  • The boy's hand had come upon a latch; he lifted it, and pushed.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • As his hand neared the latch I could see in the dim light that his movements were unsteady.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • As she laid her hand on the latch of the door, she trembled and drew back.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The gate was closed, but he tried it and found it on the latch.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • She lifted the latch, and set her shoulder against the panel.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for latch


  1. a fastening for a gate or door that consists of a bar that may be slid or lowered into a groove, hole, etc
  2. a spring-loaded door lock that can be opened by a key from outside
  3. Also called: latch circuit electronics a logic circuit that transfers the input states to the output states when signalled, the output thereafter remaining insensitive to changes in input status until signalled again
  1. to fasten, fit, or be fitted with or as if with a latch

Word Origin for latch

Old English læccan to seize, of Germanic origin; related to Greek lazesthai
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 latch

Old English læccan "to grasp or seize," from Proto-Germanic *lakkijanan. Not found in other Germanic languages; probably from PIE *(s)lagw- "to seize" (see analemma). In its original sense the verb was paralleled in Middle English and then replaced by French import catch (v.). Meaning "to fasten with a latch" is mid-15c. Related: Latched; latching.


a fastening for a door, etc., late 13c., probably from latch (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper