Etymology: Middle English cacchen, from Anglo-French cacher, chacher, chacer to hunt, from Vulgar Latin *captiare, alteration of Latin captare to chase, frequentative of capere to take — more at heave
Date: 13th century
a. to capture or seize especially after pursuit <catch a thief> b. to take or entangle in or as if in a snare <catch fish in a net> c. deceive d. to discover unexpectedly ; find <caught in the act> e. to check (oneself) suddenly or momentarily f. to become suddenly aware of <caught me looking at him> 2. a. to take hold of ; seize b. to affect suddenly c. to grasp and hold on to (something in motion) <catch a fly ball> d. to avail oneself of ; take <caught the first opportunity to leave> e. to obtain through effort ; get <catch a ride> f. to overtake unexpectedly — usually used in the passive <was caught in a storm> g. to get entangled <catch a sleeve on a nail> 3. to become affected by: as a. contract <catch a cold> b. to respond sympathetically to the point of being imbued with <catch the spirit of an occasion> c. to be struck by <he caught a bullet in the leg> d. to be subjected to ; receive <catch hell> 4. a. to take in and retain <a barrel to catch rainwater> b. fasten 5. to take or get usually momentarily or quickly <catch a glimpse of a friend> <catch a nap> 6. a. overtake <catch the leader in a race> b. to get aboard in time <catch the bus> 7. to attract and hold ; arrest, engage <caught my attention> <caught her eye> 8. to make contact with ; strike <the pitch caught him in the back> 9. a. to grasp by the senses or the mind <you catch what I mean?> <didn't catch the name> b. to apprehend and fix by artistic means <catch a person's likeness> 10. a. see, watch <catch a game on TV> b. to listen to 11. to serve as a catcher for in baseball 12. to meet with <catch you later> intransitive verb 1. to grasp hastily or try to grasp 2. to become caught 3. to catch fire 4. to play the position of catcher on a baseball team 5. kick over <the engine caught> • catchable adjective Synonyms: catch, capture, trap, snare, entrap, ensnare, bag mean to come to possess or control by or as if by seizing. catch implies the seizing of something in motion or in flight or in hiding <caught the dog as it ran by>. capture suggests taking by overcoming resistance or difficulty <capture an enemy stronghold>. trap, snare, entrap, ensnare imply seizing by some device that holds the one caught at the mercy of the captor. trap and snare apply more commonly to physical seizing <trap animals> <snared butterflies with a net>. entrap and ensnare more often are figurative <entrapped the witness with a trick question> <a sting operation that ensnared burglars>. bag implies shooting down a fleeing or distant prey <bagged a brace of pheasants>. II. noun Date: 15th century 1. something caught; especially the total quantity caught at one time <a large catch of fish> 2. a. the act, action, or fact of catching b. a game in which a ball is thrown and caught 3. something that checks or holds immovable <a safety catch> 4. one worth catching especially as a spouse 5. a round for three or more unaccompanied usually male voices often with suggestive or obscene lyrics 6. fragment, snatch 7. a concealed difficulty or complication <there must be a catch> 8. a momentary audible break in the voice or breath
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.