catch / kach; kech/ • v. (past caught / kôt/ ) [tr.] 1. intercept and hold (something that has been thrown, propelled, or dropped). ∎ intercept the fall of (someone). ∎ seize or take hold of: he caught hold of her arm as she tried to push past him. ∎ [intr.] (catch at) grasp or try to grasp: his hands caught at her arms as she tried to turn away.2. capture (a person or animal that tries or would try to escape): we hadn't caught a single rabbit. ∎ [intr.] (of an object) accidentally become entangled or trapped in something: the charm bracelet caught on her clothing. ∎ [tr.] (of a person) have (a part of one's body or clothing) become entangled or trapped in something: she caught her foot in the bedspread| fig. companies face risks of being caught in a downward spiral. ∎ [tr.] (usu. be caught) fix or fasten in place: her hair was caught back in a scrunchie.3. reach in time and board (a train, bus, or aircraft): they caught the 12:15 from Chicago. ∎ reach or be in a place in time to see (a person, performance, program, etc.): hurrying downstairs to catch the news. ∎ come upon (someone) unexpectedly: unexpected snow caught us by surprise. ∎ (be caught in) (of a person) unexpectedly find oneself in (an unwelcome situation): my sister was caught in a thunderstorm. ∎ (catch it) inf. be punished or told off. ∎ (often be caught) surprise (someone) in an incriminating situation or in the act of doing something wrong: he was caught with bomb-making equipment.4. engage (a person's interest or imagination). ∎ perceive fleetingly: she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. ∎ hear or understand (something said), esp. with effort: he bellowed something Jess couldn't catch. ∎ succeed in evoking or representing: the program caught something of the flavor of Minoan culture.5. [tr.] strike (someone) on a part of the body: Ben caught him on the chin. ∎ accidentally strike (a part of one's body) against something: she fell and caught her head on the corner of the hearth.6. contract (an illness) through infection or contagion.7. [intr.] become ignited, due to contact with flame, and start burning: the rafters have caught. ∎ (of an engine) fire and start running.• n. 1. an act of catching something, typically a ball. ∎ an amount of fish caught: a record catch of 6.9 billion pounds of fish. ∎ [in sing.] inf. a person considered attractive, successful, or prestigious and so desirable as a partner or spouse: he would be a good catch.2. a device for securing something such as a door, window, or box.3. a hidden problem or disadvantage in an apparently ideal situation: there's a catch in it somewhere.4. [in sing.] an unevenness in a person's voice caused by emotion.5. Mus. a round, typically one with words arranged to produce a humorous effect.PHRASES: catch someone nappingsee nap1 .be caught shortsee short.catch one's breath1. draw one's breath in sharply as a reaction to an emotion.2. recover one's breath after exertion.catch one's death (of cold) see death.catch someone's eye1. be noticed by someone.2. attract someone's attention by making eye contact: I caught Rhoda's eye and gave her a friendly wave.catch fire become ignited and burn.catch someone in the actsee act.catch sight of suddenly notice; glimpse.PHRASAL VERBS: catch on inf. 1. (of a practice or fashion) become popular: his music never caught on in the South.2. understand what is meant or how to do something: I caught on to what it was the guy was saying.catch up succeed in reaching a person who is ahead of one: O'Hara caught up with Stella at the bottom of the hill. ∎ do work or other tasks that one should have done earlier: catch up on paperwork.catch up with1. talk to (someone) whom one has not seen for some time in order to find out what they have been doing.2. begin to have a damaging effect on.3. succeed in reaching a person who is ahead of one: you go with Stasia and Katie, and I'll catch up with you.be/get caught up in become involved in (something that one had not intended to become involved in): he had no desire to be caught up in political activities.DERIVATIVES: catch·a·ble adj.ORIGIN: Middle English (also in the sense ‘chase’): from Anglo-Norman French and Old Northern French cachier, variant of Old French chacier, based on Latin captare ‘try to catch,’ from capere ‘take.’
Hence catch sb. act of catching. something caught XV; contrivance for checking a mechanism XIV; (mus.) round XVII.