to seize or capture, especially after pursuit:
to catch a criminal; to catch a runaway horse.
to trap or ensnare:
to catch a fish.
to intercept and seize; take and hold (something thrown, falling, etc.):
to catch a ball; a barrel to catch rain.
to come upon suddenly; surprise or detect, as in some action:
I caught him stealing the pumpkin.
to receive, incur, or contract:
to catch a cold.
to be in time to get aboard (a train, boat, etc.).
to lay hold of; grasp; clasp:
He caught her arm.
to grip, hook, or entangle:
The closing door caught his arm.
to allow (something) to become gripped, hooked, snagged, or entangled:
He caught his coat on a nail.
to attract or arrest:
The painting caught his fancy. His speech caught our attention.
to check or restrain suddenly (often used reflexively):
She caught her breath in surprise. He caught himself before he said the wrong thing.
to see or attend:
to catch a show.
to strike; hit:
The blow caught him on the head.
to become inspired by or aware of:
I caught the spirit of the occasion.
to fasten with or as if with a catch:
to catch the clasp on a necklace.
No one was caught by his sugary words.
to attract the attention of; captivate; charm:
She was caught by his smile and good nature.
to grasp with the intellect; comprehend:
She failed to catch his meaning.
to hear clearly:
We caught snatches of their conversation.
to apprehend and record; capture:
The painting caught her expression perfectly.
South Midland and Southern U.S. to assist at the birth of:
The town doctor caught more than four hundred children before he retired.
to become gripped, hooked, or entangled:
Her foot caught in the net.
to overtake someone or something moving (usually followed by up, up with, or up to).
to take hold:
The door lock doesn’t catch.
Baseball. to play the position of catcher,
He catches for the Yankees.
to become lighted; take fire; ignite:
The kindling caught instantly.
to become established, as a crop or plant, after germination and sprouting.
the act of catching.
anything that catches, especially a device for checking motion, as a latch on a door.
any tricky or concealed drawback:
It seems so easy that there must be a catch somewhere.
a slight, momentary break or crack in the voice.
that which is caught, as a quantity of fish:
The fisherman brought home a large catch.
a person or thing worth getting, especially a person regarded as a desirable matrimonial prospect:
My mother thinks Pat would be quite a catch.
a game in which a ball is thrown from one person to another:
to play catch; to have a catch.
catches of a song.
Music. a round, especially one in which the words are so arranged as to produce ludicrous effects.
Sports. the catching and holding of a batted or thrown ball before it touches the ground.
Rowing. the first part of the stroke, consisting of the placing of the oar into the water.
Agriculture. the establishment of a crop from seed:
a catch of clover.
catchy (def 3).
catch at, to grasp at eagerly; accept readily:
He caught at the chance to get free tickets.
to become popular:
That new song is beginning to catch on.
to grasp mentally; understand:
You’d think he’d catch on that he’s boring us.
New England. (in cooking) to scorch or burn slightly; sear:
A pot roast is better if allowed to catch on.
catch out, Chiefly British. to catch or discover (a person) in deceit or an error.
to lift or snatch suddenly:
Leaves were caught up in the wind.
to bring or get up to date (often followed by on or with):
to catch up on one’s reading.
to come up to or overtake (something or someone) (usually followed by with):
to catch up with the leader in a race.
to become involved or entangled with:
caught up in the excitement of the crowd.
to point out to (a person) minor errors, untruths, etc. (usually followed by on):
We caught the teacher up on a number of factual details.
Falconry. to capture for further training (a hawk that has been flown at hack).
South Midland and Southern U.S. to harness (a horse or mule).
catch a crab, (in rowing) to bungle a stroke by failing to get the oar into the water at the beginning or by failing to withdraw it properly at the end.
catch a turn, Nautical. to wind a rope around a bitt, capstan, etc., for one full turn.
catch it, Informal. to receive a reprimand or punishment:
He’ll catch it from his mother for tearing his good trousers again.
any decapod crustacean of the suborder Brachyura, having the eyes on short stalks and a short, broad, more or less flattened body, the abdomen being small and folded under the thorax.
any of various other crustaceans, as the hermit crab, or other animals, as the horseshoe crab, resembling the true crabs.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy, Astrology. the zodiacal constellation or sign Cancer.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the Crab Nebula.
any of various mechanical contrivances for hoisting or pulling.
Aeronautics. the maneuver of crabbing.
Informal. the crab louse.
See under louse (def 1).
(used with a singular verb) a losing throw, as two aces, in the game of hazard.
to catch or attempt to catch crabs.
to move sideways, diagonally, or obliquely, especially with short, abrupt bursts of speed; scuttle.
Aeronautics. (of an aircraft) to head partly into the wind to compensate for drift.
Nautical. to drift or advance with some movement sideways, especially when under tow.
to move (a vehicle or object) sideways, diagonally, or obliquely, especially with short, abrupt movements.
Aeronautics. to head (an aircraft) partly into the wind to compensate for drift.
catch a crab, to make a faulty stroke in rowing, so that the oar strikes the water forcibly on the backstroke.
verb catches, catching, caught
(transitive) to take hold of so as to retain or restrain: he caught the ball
(transitive) to take, seize, or capture, esp after pursuit
(transitive) to ensnare or deceive, as by trickery
(transitive) to surprise or detect in an act: he caught the dog rifling the larder
(transitive) to reach with a blow: the stone caught him on the side of the head
(transitive) to overtake or reach in time to board: if we hurry we should catch the next bus
(transitive) to see or hear; attend: I didn’t catch the Ibsen play
(transitive) to be infected with: to catch a cold
to hook or entangle or become hooked or entangled: her dress caught on a nail
to fasten or be fastened with or as if with a latch or other device
(transitive) to attract or arrest: she tried to catch his eye
(transitive) to comprehend: I didn’t catch his meaning
(transitive) to hear accurately: I didn’t catch what you said
(transitive) to captivate or charm
(transitive) to perceive and reproduce accurately: the painter managed to catch his model’s beauty
(transitive) to hold back or restrain: he caught his breath in surprise
(intransitive) to become alight: the fire won’t catch
(transitive) (cricket) to dismiss (a batsman) by intercepting and holding a ball struck by him before it touches the ground
(intransitive) often foll by at
to grasp or attempt to grasp
to take advantage (of), esp eagerly: he caught at the chance
(intransitive; used passively) (informal) to make pregnant
(informal) catch it, to be scolded or reprimanded
(slang) catch oneself on, to realize that one’s actions are mistaken
the act of catching or grasping
a device that catches and fastens, such as a latch
anything that is caught, esp something worth catching
the amount or number caught
(informal) a person regarded as an eligible matrimonial prospect
a check or break in the voice
a break in a mechanism
a concealed, unexpected, or unforeseen drawback or handicap
(as modifier): a catch question
a game in which a ball is thrown from one player to another
(cricket) the catching of a ball struck by a batsman before it touches the ground, resulting in him being out
(music) a type of round popular in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, having a humorous text that is often indecent or bawdy and hard to articulate See round (sense 31), canon1 (sense 7)
any chiefly marine decapod crustacean of the genus Cancer and related genera (section Brachyura), having a broad flattened carapace covering the cephalothorax, beneath which is folded the abdomen. The first pair of limbs are modified as pincers See also fiddler crab, soft-shell crab, pea crab, oyster crab related adjective cancroid
any of various similar or related arthropods, such as the hermit crab and horseshoe crab
short for crab louse
a manoeuvre in which an aircraft flies slightly into the crosswind to compensate for drift
a mechanical lifting device, esp the travelling hoist of a gantry crane
(wrestling) See Boston crab
(rowing) catch a crab, to make a stroke in which the oar either misses the water or digs too deeply, causing the rower to fall backwards
verb crabs, crabbing, crabbed
(intransitive) to hunt or catch crabs
(transitive) to fly (an aircraft) slightly into a crosswind to compensate for drift
(intransitive) (nautical) to move forwards with a slight sideways motion, as to overcome an offsetting current
(intransitive) to move sideways
verb crabs, crabbing, crabbed
(intransitive) to find fault; grumble
(transitive) (mainly US) to spoil (esp in the phrase crab someone’s act)
an irritable person
(Austral) draw the crabs, to attract unwelcome attention
short for crab apple
the Crab, the constellation Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac
crustacean, Old English crabba, from a general Germanic root (cf. Dutch krab, Old High German krebiz, German Krabbe, Old Norse krabbi “crab”), related to Low German krabben, Dutch krabelen “to scratch, claw,” from PIE root *gerbh- “to scratch, carve” (see carve). The constellation name is attested in English from c.1000; the Crab Nebula (1868), however, is in Taurus, and is so called for its shape. French crabe (13c.) is from Dutch.
“fruit of the wild apple tree,” c.1300, crabbe, perhaps from Scandinavian scrab, of obscure origin (cf. Swedish krabbäpple). The combination of “bad-tempered, combative” and “sour” in the two nouns crab naturally yielded a verb meaning of “to vex, irritate” (c.1400), later “to complain irritably, find fault” (c.1500). The noun meaning “sour person” is from 1570s.
c.1200, “to take, capture,” from Anglo-French or Old North French cachier “catch, capture” (animals) (Old French chacier “hunt, pursue, drive (animals),” Modern French chasser “to hunt;” making it a doublet of chase (v.)), from Vulgar Latin *captiare “try to seize, chase” (also source of Spanish cazar, Italian cacciare), from Latin captare “to take, hold,” frequentative of Latin capere “to take, hold” (see capable).
Senses in early Middle English also included “chase, hunt,” which later went with chase (v.). Of infections from 1540s; of fire from 1734; of sleep, etc., from early 14c. Related: Catched (obsolete); catching; caught.
Meaning “act as a catcher in baseball” recorded from 1865. To catch on “apprehend” is 1884, American English colloquial. To catch (someone’s) eye is first attested 1813, in Jane Austen. Catch as catch can first attested late 14c.
late 14c., “device to hold a latch of a door,” also “a trap;” also “a fishing vessel,” from catch (v.). Meaning “action of catching” attested from 1570s. Meaning “that which is caught or worth catching” (later especially of spouses) is from 1590s. Sense of “hidden cost, qualification, etc.” is slang first recorded 1855 in P.T. Barnum.
A highly desirable acquisition or engagement: Getting Von Karajan for our benefit would be a catch (1740s+)
A hidden cost, qualification, defect, etc; something to make one think twice: It looks like all gravy, but there’s a catch to it (1855+)
To see, hear, or attend a particular entertainment: I caught Mickey Rooney on TV (1906+)
catch on (1880s+)
To do desk duty, answering the telephone and receiving complaints: Thompson was catching in the squad room at Manhattan South (1950s+ Police)
To be penetrated in an anal sex act (1970s+ Homosexual)
: He’s an awful crab, never gives her a moment’s peace
A resident of Annapolis, Maryland (1920s+)
To complain, esp to do so regularly; nag; bitch: Crab, crab, crab, that was all she ever did/ So us crabbing about our zero-life factors isn’t up for debate, really (1812+)
To spoil; ruin: He’s trying to crab the deal (1890s+)
catch a Tartar
catch as catch can
catch in the act
catch off guard
catch one’s breath
catch one’s death (of cold)
catch sight of
catch some rays
catch some z’s
catch someone’s eye
catch the drift
a single stalk or stem, especially of certain species of grain, chiefly wheat, rye, oats, and barley. a mass of such stalks, especially after drying and threshing, used as fodder. material, fibers, etc., made from such stalks, as used for making hats or baskets. the negligible value of one such stalk; trifle; least bit: not […]
- Catch a rail
catch a rail Related Terms take gas verb phrase To take a short respite from work; take a break [1929+; about the time it takes to smoke a cigarette]
Also, catch-can. taking advantage of any opportunity; using any method that can be applied: a catch-as-catch-can life, as an itinerant handyman. without specific plan or order: They lived catch-as-catch-can. a style of wrestling in which the contestants are permitted to trip, tackle, and use holds below the waist. Compare Greco-Roman (def 3). Historical Examples Anyhow, […]
a member of any of the various tribes, chiefly Mongolian and Turkish, who, originally under the leadership of Genghis Khan, overran Asia and much of eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. a member of the descendants of this people variously intermingled with other peoples and tribes, now inhabiting parts of the European and W and […]