Definition of “catch” - English Dictionary

“catch” in British English

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uk /kætʃ/ us /kætʃ/ caught, caught

catch verb (TAKE HOLD)

A1 [ I or T ] to take hold of something, especially something that is moving through the air:

I managed to catch the glass before it hit the ground.
We saw the eagle swoop from the sky to catch its prey.
Our dog ran past me and out of the house before I could catch it.
He caught hold of my arm.
We placed saucepans on the floor to catch (= collect) the drops of water coming through the roof.
UK The batsman was caught (out) (= someone in the other team caught the ball when he hit it).

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catch verb (STOP ESCAPING)

B1 [ T ] to find and stop a person or animal that is trying to escape:

Great pressure was put on the police to catch the terrorists as soon as possible.
[ + -ing verb ] Two armed men were caught trying to cross the frontier at night.
They were happy because they had caught a lot of fish that day.
figurative I can see you're busy right now, so I'll catch you (= speak to you) later.

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catch verb (NOTICE)

B2 [ T ] to discover, see, or realize something, especially someone doing something wrong:

[ + -ing verb ] He caught her reading his old love letters.
If the virus is caught (= discovered) in time, most patients can be successfully treated.
I caught sight of/caught a glimpse of (= saw for a moment) a red coat in the crowd.
catch sb's attention, imagination, interest, etc.

B2 to make someone notice something and feel interested:

A ship out at sea caught his attention.
Her pictures caught my imagination.
be caught without sth

to not have something, especially when it is needed:

He doesn't like to be caught without any biscuits in the house.
you won't catch sb doing sth

said to mean that you will certainly not see someone doing a particular thing or in a particular place:

You won't catch me at work after four o'clock.
You won't catch Carla eating in a cheap restaurant, oh no.

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catch verb (TRAVEL)

A1 [ T ] to travel or be able to travel on an aircraft, train, bus, etc.:

He always catches the 10.30 a.m. train to work.
She was worried that she'd arrive too late to catch the last bus home.

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catch verb (BECOME INFECTED)

A2 [ T ] to get an illness, especially one caused by bacteria or a virus:

He caught a cold on holiday.
A lot of children in the school caught measles last term.

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catch verb (BE TOUCHED BY)

catch the sun UK

If you have caught the sun, the sun has made your skin a slightly darker brown or red colour:

You've caught the sun on the back of your neck.
catch the light

If something catches the light, a light shines on it and makes it look shiny.


uk /kætʃ/ us /kætʃ/

(Definition of “catch” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“catch” in American English

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us /kætʃ, ketʃ/ past tense and past participle caught /kɔt/

catch verb (TAKE HOLD)

[ I/T ] to take or get hold of a moving object, or to hold and prevent someone from getting away:

[ I ] She tossed him the car keys and yelled, “Catch!”
[ T ] He sneaked into the fairgrounds without paying and hoped nobody would catch him.

catch verb (DISCOVER)

[ T ] to discover, find, or become aware of something:

If the disease is caught in time, most patients get well quickly.
I hope I catch all the mistakes in my term paper.

catch verb (SEE)

[ T ] to see or hear something or someone, or to understand:

I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch what you said.

catch verb (TRAVEL)

[ T ] to travel or be able to travel on a train, bus, aircraft, etc.:

He always caught the 6:05 train out of Grand Central.

catch verb (BECOME INFECTED)

[ T ] to get an illness:

I caught a cold.


us /kætʃ, ketʃ/

catch noun (PROBLEM)

[ C ] infml a hidden problem or disadvantage:

That sales price sounds too good to be true – there must be a catch to it somewhere.

catch noun (DEVICE)

[ C ] a small device with a movable part that is used to fasten something:

The catch on the bracelet is broken.

catch noun (TAKING HOLD)

[ C/U ] the act of taking hold of something that is thrown or comes through the air:

[ C ] The ball was hit well, but the centerfielder made a leaping, one-handed catch to end the game.

[ C/U ] Catch is also the activity of throwing and receiving a ball with another person:

[ U ] My kids are always begging me to play catch.

(Definition of “catch” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“catch” in Business English

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catchverb [ T ]

uk /kætʃ/ us caught, caught
catch sb off guard/by surprise

to surprise someone and cause difficulty for them:

A lot of taxpayers will be caught off guard by their new tax liability
catch sb's eye/catch the eye of sb

to get someone's attention, or to be noticed by someone:

be/get caught up in sth

to become involved in something, often without wanting to:

The firm was caught up in the near-collapse of one of the world's largest hedge funds.

Phrasal verb(s)

catchnoun [ S ]

uk /kætʃ/ us

a hidden problem or disadvantage:

The catch is that during the calendar year you can only make six withdrawals from your account.

a new employee that a company is very pleased to have because they are very valuable:

He is a super-bright economist who is a real catch for the department.

(Definition of “catch” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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