Slang dictionary

catch feelings

[ kach fee-lingz ]

What does catch feelings mean?

Catch feelings is slang for having or developing romantic feelings for someone. The term usually implies unwelcome romantic attachments from one of the parties in the relationship.

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Related words

Netflix and chill, <3, ❤️ Red Heart emoji, relationship goals, friends with benefits

Where does catch feelings come from?

In the expression catch feelings, the verb catch has a sense of “get, receive, incur, become entangled.” The verb here may specifically draw on use of catch in constructions like catching a cold. Feelings refers romantic attraction to another person.

The expression catch feelings is first recorded in colloquial Black English of hip-hop music in the 1990s. It gained mainstream attention in the 2010s a number of popular hip-hop songs. In his 2013 “Catch Flight,” Kodak Black raps: “I’m picking up checks, I don’t fall in love / I don’t catch feelings …” In his 2017 “Bank Account,” Lil Wayne raps of women: “When they catch feelings, I’m gone.”

Kodak Black’s use of catch feelings shows how the expression can refer to unwanted or undesired feelings on the part of the experiencer. Lil Wayne’s use of the expression refers to when the object of the affection does not want to the other party to become attached, especially after casual sexual encounters.

Examples of catch feelings

You’re not dating their cute face, height or smile. You are dating their maturity, morals and growth. Evaluate that before you catch feelings for someone that doesn’t deserve you.
@hafsat_ms_, January 25, 2020
What’s that, people who sleep with other people may sometimes catch feelings? You had the audacity to admit you started to like them more and wanted to see if maybe, just maybe, they felt the same? ... Now they have to either maturely tell the truth and part ways, or knowingly be a dirt bag and lie about wanting more.
Julia Pugachevsky, Cosmopolitan, July 3, 2017

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Who uses catch feelings?

The general connotation of the phrase catch feelings is negative, and it usually implies someone is developing unexpected, unwanted feelings or that such feelings will lead to undesired outcomes (e.g., getting your heart broken). Catching feelings is also used in the context of when someone develops romantic feelings after casual sex (with the other party not interested in anything more) or being friends with benefits (fwb). Popular publications such as Cosmopolitan, Elite Daily, and Hypebae have often offered advice on how not to catch feelings and how to manage them, including ending or building that relationship.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of catch feelings like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of catch feelings that will help our users expand their word mastery.