|Language:||Old North French|
|Origin:||cachier 'to hunt', from Vulgar Latin captiare, from Latin captare 'to try to catch', from capere 'to take'|
catch1 S1 W1 past tense and past participle caught
take and hold
a) [intransitive and transitive]
to get hold of and stop an object such as a ball that is moving through the air [↪ throw]:
Stephen leapt up and caught the ball in one hand.
'Pass me that pen, would you?' 'Here you are. Catch!'
The kids were throwing and catching a frisbee down on the beach.
to suddenly take hold of someone or something with your hand:
He caught her elbow to steady her.
Miss Perry caught hold of my sleeve and pulled me back.
to stop someone after you have been chasing them and not let them get away:
'You can't catch me!' she yelled, running away.
to find a criminal or enemy and stop them from escaping [= capture]:
State police have launched a massive operation to catch the murderer.
If you go back to the city you're bound to get caught.
to see someone doing something that they did not want you to know they were doing
see somebody doing something[transitive]
catch somebody doing something
I caught him reading my private letters.
Gemma turned around and caught the stranger looking at her intently.
catch somebody in the act (of doing something) (=catch someone while they are doing something illegal)
The gang was caught in the act of unloading the cigarettes.
He was caught red-handed (=as he was doing something wrong) taking money from the cash register.
catch somebody at it
We knew he'd been cheating, but we'd never caught him at it before.
to get an infectious disease:
Anton caught malaria in Mali, and nearly died.
Many young people are still ignorant about how HIV is caught.
catch something from/off somebody/something
Typhoid and cholera are often caught from contaminated water supplies.
I caught chicken pox off my friend at school.
catch your death (of cold) British English spoken (=get a very bad cold)
Don't stand out in the rain. You'll catch your death.
5 also catch somebody napping/unawares, catch somebody on the hop British English
to do something or to happen when someone is not expecting it or prepared for it:
Her question caught him off guard.
to discover that someone is doing something that they should not be doing or has not done something that they should have done:
He's not the first politician to be caught with his pants down, and he won't be the last.
to trap an animal or fish by using a trap, net, or hook, or by hunting it:
Did you catch any fish?
Early settlers caught rabbits and squirrels and even rats in order to survive.
to get on a train, plane etc in order to travel on it, or to be in time to get on a train, plane etc before it leaves:
I caught the 7.15 train to London.
There's a train in now. If you run, you'll just catch it.
I have to hurry - I have a bus to catch.
to not be too late to do something, see something, talk to someone etc [≠ miss]:
not miss somebody/something[transitive]TCM
I managed to catch her just as she was leaving.
I just caught the last few minutes of the documentary.
Tumours like these can be treated quite easily if they're caught early enough.
catch the post British English (=post letters in time for them to be collected that day)
if your hand, finger, clothing etc catches or is caught in something, it gets stuck in it accidentally:
get stuck[intransitive and transitive]
His overalls caught in the engine.
Her microphone was forever getting caught on her clothes.
to make you notice something and feel interested in it:
Lucie whistled sharply to catch the other girl's attention.
This is a story that will catch the imagination of every child.
to not hear or understand what someone says:
I'm afraid I didn't catch your name.
to manage to hear a sound:
I caught the muffled thud of a car door slamming in the street.
used to say goodbye:
'I'll give you a call in a couple days.' 'Okay. Catch you later.'
to go somewhere in order to do or see something:
do/see something[transitive] spoken especially American English
We could catch a movie (=go to a movie).
M Records caught his act and signed him immediately.
16 American English spoken
to go somewhere in someone else's car:
I caught a ride as far as Columbus.
17 also you won't catch me somewhere spoken
used to say that you would never do something:
I love dancing but you won't catch me being the first on the dance floor!
to be punished by someone such as a parent or teacher because you have done something wrong:
You'll catch it if Dad finds out.
to see someone or something for a very short time:
Fans waited for hours at the airport to catch a glimpse of their idol.
to suddenly see someone or something that you have been looking for or have been hoping to see:
I caught sight of her in the crowd.
to show or describe the character or quality of something well in a picture, piece of writing etc [= capture]:
a novel that catches the mood of post-war Britain
if something catches fire, it starts to burn accidentally:
Two farm workers died when a barn caught fire.
if a fire catches, it starts to burn:
For some reason the charcoal wasn't catching.
to attract someone's attention and make them look at something:
Out on the freeway, a billboard caught his eye.
to look at someone at the same moment that they are looking at you:
Every time she caught his eye, she would glance away embarrassed.
to suddenly realize you are doing something:
Standing there listening to the song, he caught himself smiling from ear to ear.
to hit someone in or on a particular part of their body:
The punch caught him right in the face.
to be in a situation that you cannot easily get out of or in which you do not have something you need:
We got caught in a rainstorm on the way here.
Here's a useful tip if you're caught without a mirror.
to pause for a moment after a lot of physical effort in order to breathe normally again:
Hang on a minute - let me catch my breath!
to stop breathing for a moment because something has surprised, frightened, or shocked you
to take some time to stop and think about what you will do next after having been very busy or active:
It was an enforced absence from work, but at least it gave me a little time to catch my breath before the final push.
if a container catches liquid, it is in a position where the liquid falls into it:
Place the baking sheet under the muffin pan to catch the drips.
if the light catches something or if something catches the light, the light shines on it:
The sunlight caught her hair and turned it to gold.
if you catch the sun, your skin becomes red and sometimes sore because of the effects of sunlight:
You've caught the sun on the back of your neck.
if something catches the wind or the wind catches something, it blows on it:
Gary swung the sail round to catch the light wind.
to end a player's innings in cricket by catching the ball that is hit off their bat before it touches the ground
to be the catcher in a game of baseball
catch at somethingphrasal verb
She caught at his arm, 'Hang on. I'm coming with you.'
catch onphrasal verb
to become popular and fashionable:
The idea of glasses being a fashion item has been slow to catch on.
to begin to understand or realize something
catch on to
It was a long time before the police caught on to what he was really doing.
catch somebody outphrasal verb
to make someone make a mistake, especially deliberately and in order to prove that they are lying:
The interviewer may try to catch you out.
if something unexpected catches you out, it puts you in a difficult situation because you were not expecting it or not fully prepared for it:
Even the best whitewater rafters get caught out by the fierce rapids here.
catch upphrasal verb
to improve and reach the same standard as other people in your class, group etc:
If you miss a lot of classes, it's very difficult to catch up.
catch up with
At the moment our technology is more advanced, but other countries are catching up with us.
to come from behind and reach someone in front of you by going faster
catch up with
Drive faster - they're catching up with us.
catch somebody up British English
You go on ahead. I'll catch you up in a minute.
to do what needs to be done because you have not been able to do it until now
to spend time finding out what has been happening while you have been away or during the time you have not seen someone
catch up on
When I got home I phoned Jo to catch up on all the gossip.
I'll leave you two alone - I'm sure you've got a lot of catching up to do.
to be or get involved in something, especially something bad:
I didn't want to get caught up in endless petty arguments.
catch up with somebodyphrasal verb
to finally find someone who has been doing something illegal and punish them:
It took six years for the law to catch up with them.
if something bad from the past catches up with you, you cannot avoid dealing with it any longer:
At the end of the movie his murky past catches up with him.