catch1 W1S1 [kætʃ] v past tense and past participle caught [ko:t US ko:t]
1¦(take and hold)¦
2¦(find/stop somebody)¦
3¦(see somebody doing something)¦
5 catch somebody by surprise/catch somebody off guard
6 catch somebody with their pants/trousers down
8 catch a train/plane/bus
9¦(not miss somebody/something)¦
10¦(get stuck)¦
11 catch somebody's attention/interest/imagination etc
12 not catch something
14 catch you later
15¦(do/see something)¦
16 catch a ride
17 you won't catch me doing something
18 catch it
19 catch a glimpse of somebody/something
20 catch sight of somebody/something
21¦(describe well)¦
23 catch somebody's eye
24 catch yourself doing something
26 be caught in/without etc something
27 catch your breath
30 catch the sun
Phrasal verbs
 catch at something
 catch on
 catch somebody out
 catch up
 catch up with somebody
[Date: 1100-1200; : Old North French; Origin: cachier 'to hunt', from Vulgar Latin captiare, from Latin captare 'to try to catch', from capere 'to take']
a) [I and T]
to get hold of and stop an object such as a ball that is moving through the air
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.
b) [T]
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.
a) to stop someone after you have been chasing them and not let them get away
'You can't catch me!' she yelled, running away.
b) 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
catch sb doing sth
I caught him reading my private letters.
Gemma turned around and caught the stranger looking at her intently.
catch sb in the act (of doing sth)
(=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 sb at it
We knew he'd been cheating, but we'd never caught him at it before.
4.) ¦(ILLNESS)¦ [T]
to get an infectious disease
Anton caught malaria while he was in Mali, and nearly died.
Many young people are still ignorant about how HIV is caught.
catch sth from/off sb/sth
In these areas, typhoid and cholera are often caught from contaminated water supplies.
I caught chicken pox off my friend at school and had to stay home for two weeks.
catch your death (of cold)
BrE spoken (=get a very bad cold)
Don't stand out there in the rain. You'll catch your death.
5.) catch sb by surprise/catch sb off guard also catch sb napping/unawares
catch sb on the hop BrE
to do something or to happen when someone is not expecting it or prepared for it
Her question caught him off guard.
6.) catch sb with their pants/trousers down
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.
7.) ¦(ANIMAL/FISH)¦ [T]
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.
8.) catch a train/plane/bus
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
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
BrE (=post letters in time for them to be collected that day)
10.) ¦(GET STUCK)¦ [I and T]
if your hand, finger, clothing etc catches or is caught in something, it gets stuck in it accidentally
His overalls caught in the engine.
Her microphone was forever getting caught on her clothes.
11.) catch sb's attention/interest/imagination etc
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.
12.) not catch sth
spoken to not hear or understand what someone says
I'm afraid I didn't catch your name.
13.) ¦(HEAR)¦ [T]
to manage to hear a sound
I caught the muffled thud of a car door slamming in the street.
14.) catch you later
spoken used to say goodbye
'I'll give you a call in a couple days.' 'Okay. Catch you later.'
spoken especially AmE to go somewhere in order to do or see something
We could catch a movie (=go to a movie) .
M Records caught his act and signed him immediately.
16.) catch a ride
AmE spoken to go somewhere in someone else's car
I caught a ride as far as Columbus.
17.) you won't catch me doing sth 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!
18.) catch it informal
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 where you've been.
19.) catch a glimpse of sb/sth
to see someone or something for a very short time
Fans waited for hours at the airport to catch a glimpse of their idol.
20.) catch sight of sb/sth
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.
21.) ¦(DESCRIBE WELL)¦ [T]
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
22.) ¦(BURN)¦
a) catch fire
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.
23.) catch sb's eye
a) to attract someone's attention and make them look at something
Out on the freeway, a billboard caught his eye.
b) 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.
24.) catch yourself doing sth
to suddenly realize you are doing something
Standing there listening to the song, he caught himself smiling from ear to ear.
25.) ¦(HIT)¦ [T]
to hit someone in or on a particular part of their body
The punch caught him right in the face.
26.) be caught in/without etc sth
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.
27.) catch your breath
a) 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!
b) to stop breathing for a moment because something has surprised, frightened, or shocked you
c) 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.
28.) ¦(CONTAINER)¦ [T]
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.
29.) ¦(SHINE)¦ [T]
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.
30.) catch the sun [i]informal
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.
31.) ¦(WIND)¦ [T]
if something catches the wind or the wind catches something, it blows on it
Gary swung the sail round to catch the light wind.
32.) ¦(SPORT)¦
a) [T]
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 [catch at sth] [i]phr v
to try to take hold of something
She caught at his arm, 'Hang on. I'm coming with you.'
catch on phr v
1.) to become popular and fashionable
The idea of glasses being a fashion item has been slow to catch on.
2.) 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 out [catch sb out] phr v
1.) 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.
2.) 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 up phr v
1.) 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.
2.) 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 sb up BrE
You go on ahead. I'll catch you up in a minute.
3.) to do what needs to be done because you have not been able to do it until now
catch up on
I have some work to catch up on.
I need to catch up on some sleep (=after a period without enough sleep) .
4.) 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
The first thing I did when I got home was to phone up Jo and 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.
5.) be/get caught up in sth
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 [catch up with sb] phr v
1.) 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.
2.) 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.
catch 2
catch2 n
an act of catching a ball that has been thrown or hit
Hey! Nice catch!
2.) [C usually singular] informal
a hidden problem or difficulty
This deal looks too good to be true - there must be a catch somewhere.
the catch is (that)
The catch is that you can't enter the competition unless you've spent $100 in the store.
a hook or something similar for fastening a door or lid and keeping it shut
a quantity of fish that has been caught at one time
5.) [U]
a simple game in which two or more people throw a ball to each other
Let's go outside and play catch.
6.) a catch in your voice/throat
a short pause that you make when you are speaking because, you feel upset or are beginning to cry
There was a catch in Anne's voice and she seemed close to tears.
7.) a (good) catch
someone who is a good person to have a relationship with or to marry because they are rich, attractive etc - often used humorously

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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