—v.t. 1. to seize or capture, esp. after pursuit: to catch a criminal; to catch a runaway horse. 2. to trap or ensnare: to catch a fish. 3. to intercept and seize; take and hold (something thrown, falling, etc.): to catch a ball; a barrel to catch rain. 4. to come upon suddenly; surprise or detect, as in some action: I caught him stealing the pumpkin. 5. to receive, incur, or contract: to catch a cold. 6. to be in time to get aboard (a train, boat, etc.).
7. to lay hold of; grasp; clasp: He caught her arm. 8. to grip, hook, or entangle: The closing door caught his arm. 9. to allow (something) to become gripped, hooked, snagged, or entangled: He caught his coat on a nail. 10. to attract or arrest: The painting caught his fancy. His speech caught our attention. 11. to check or restrain suddenly (often used reflexively): She caught her breath in surprise. He caught himself before he said the wrong thing. 12. to see or attend: to catch a show. 13. to strike; hit: The blow caught him on the head. 14. to become inspired by or aware of: I caught the spirit of the occasion. 15. to fasten with or as if with a catch: to catch the clasp on a necklace. 16. to deceive: No one was caught by his sugary words. 17. to attract the attention of; captivate; charm: She was caught by his smile and good nature. 18. to grasp with the intellect; comprehend: She failed to catch his meaning. 19. to hear clearly: We caught snatches of their conversation. 20. to apprehend and record; capture: The painting caught her expression perfectly. 21. South Midland and Southern U.S.to assist at the birth of: The town doctor caught more than four hundred children before he retired.
—v.i. 1. to become gripped, hooked, or entangled: Her foot caught in the net. 2. to overtake someone or something moving (usually fol. by up, up with, or up to).
3. to take hold: The door lock doesn't catch. 4. Baseball.to play the position of catcher: He catches for the Yankees. 5. to become lighted; take fire; ignite: The kindling caught instantly. 6. to become established, as a crop or plant, after germination and sprouting.
7. 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.
8. catch at, to grasp at eagerly; accept readily: He caught at the chance to get free tickets. 9. catch a turn,Naut.to wind a rope around a bitt, capstan, etc., for one full turn.
10. catch it,Informal.to receive a reprimand or punishment: He'll catch it from his mother for tearing his good trousers again. 11. catch on, a. to become popular: That new song is beginning to catch on. b. to grasp mentally; understand: You'd think he'd catch on that he's boring us. c. New England.(in cooking) to scorch or burn slightly; sear: A pot roast is better if allowed to catch on. 12. catch out,Chiefly Brit.to catch or discover (a person) in deceit or an error.
13. catch up, a. to lift or snatch suddenly: Leaves were caught up in the wind. b. to bring or get up to date (often fol. by on or with): to catch up on one's reading. c. to come up to or overtake (something or someone) (usually fol. by with): to catch up with the leader in a race. d. to become involved or entangled with: caught up in the excitement of the crowd. e. to point out to (a person) minor errors, untruths, etc. (usually fol. by on): We caught the teacher up on a number of factual details. f. Falconry.to capture for further training (a hawk that has been flown at hack).
g. South Midland and Southern U.S.to harness (a horse or mule).
—n. 1. the act of catching.
2. anything that catches, esp. a device for checking motion, as a latch on a door.
3. any tricky or concealed drawback: It seems so easy that there must be a catch somewhere. 4. a slight, momentary break or crack in the voice.
5. that which is caught, as a quantity of fish: The fisherman brought home a large catch. 6. a person or thing worth getting, esp. a person regarded as a desirable matrimonial prospect: My mother thinks Pat would be quite a catch. 7. a game in which a ball is thrown from one person to another: to play catch; to have a catch. 8. a fragment: catches of a song. 9. Music.a round, esp. one in which the words are so arranged as to produce ludicrous effects.
10. Sports.the catching and holding of a batted or thrown ball before it touches the ground.
11. Rowing.the first part of the stroke, consisting of the placing of the oar into the water.
12. Agric.the establishment of a crop from seed: a catch of clover.