verb past tense and past participle caught
1 STOP/TRAP SB (T)a) to stop someone after you have been chasing them and prevent them from escaping: "You can't catch me!" she yelled, running away across the field. | If the guerrillas catch you, they will kill you.b) if the police catch a criminal, they find the criminal and stop him or her from escaping: State police have launched a massive operation to catch the murderer. | The jewel thieves were never caught.2 FIND SB DOING STH (T) to find or see someone while they are actually doing something wrong or illegal: catch sb doing sth: I caught Howard reading my private letters. | catch sb in the act (of)/catch sb red-handed (=catch someone in the middle of doing something bad): a shoplifter caught in the act | They say Buster was caught red-handed. | catch sb at it BrE spoken: We know he's been cheating, but we've never caught him at it.3 FIND SB UNPREPARED catch sb unawares/catch sb off guard/catch sb on the hop BrE to do something or happen when someone is not expecting it and not ready to deal with events: a night attack that caught the enemy unawares | Her question caught him off guard. | The dramatic fall in share prices caught even the experts on the hop. | be caught napping informal (=not be ready to deal with something unexpected that happens) | catch sb with their pants/trousers down informal (=make someone feel embarrassed by arriving or doing something when they are not ready)4 ANIMAL/FISH (T) to trap an animal or fish by using a trap, net, or hook, or by hunting it: It's a useless cat, no good at catching mice. | Last time we went fishing I caught a huge trout. | catching butterflies5 HOLDa) (I, T) to get hold of and stop an object such as a ball that is moving through the air: Watch - if you throw the ball, Bouncer can catch it in his mouth. | "Chuck me over those cigarettes, would you." "Here you are. Catch!"b) (T) to suddenly take hold of someone: She stumbled forward but Calum caught her in his arms. | catch hold of: Miss Perry caught hold of my sleeve and pulled me back.6 ILLNESS (T) to get a disease or illness: My sister has mumps. I hope I haven't caught it. | catch sth from/off: I think I'm getting the flu - I must have caught it off Gerry. | catch your death (of cold) (=get a very bad cold): Don't stand out there in the rain. You'll catch your death.7 catch a train/plane/bus to get on a train etc in order to travel, or to be in time to get it: Every morning I catch the 7.15 train to London. | There's a train in now. If you run, you'll just catch it. | have a train etc to catch: I have to hurry - I have a bus to catch-see reach 18 BE IN TIME (T) to not be too late to see something, talk to someone etc: I managed to catch her just as she was leaving. | catch the post BrE (=post letters in time for them to be collected that day)-opposite miss 1 (5)9 GET STUCK (I, T) if your hand, finger, clothing etc catches or is caught in something, it becomes stuck or fastened there: "What happened to your finger?" "It got caught in the car door." | Bobby caught his shirt on a wire fence.10 catch sb's attention/interest/imagination etc if something catches your attention etc, you notice it or feel interested in it: The unusual panelling on the wall caught our attention. | a story that will catch the imagination of every child | catch sb's eye (=get sb's attention): We need big, bold headlines - something to catch the reader's eye.11 HEAR/UNDERSTAND not catch sth to not hear or not understand what someone says: Could you say that again? I didn't catch the last bit. | I'm afraid I didn't catch your name. | Did you catch the announcement?12 NOTICE (transitive not in progressive) to see or notice something for a moment: catch sight of/catch a glimpse of: I suddenly caught sight of her in the crowd. | Fans waited at the airport hoping to catch a glimpse of Gloria Estefan. | catch a whiff of (=notice a smell for a moment): Brad caught a whiff of smoke in the air.13 DESCRIBE WELL (T) to show or describe very successfully the character or quality of something, in a picture, a piece of writing etc: a novel that catches the mood of pre-war Britain14 BURNa) catch fire if something catches fire, it starts to burn accidentally: Two farm workers died when a barn caught fire.-see fire 1b) (I) if a fire catches it starts to burn: For some reason the charcoal isn't catching.15 you won't catch me doing sth spoken used to say that you would never do something: You won't catch me ironing all his cotton shirts!16 be caught up in to be involved in something unwillingly: Children who were caught up in the crime are getting a lot of media attention.17 catch yourself doing sth to suddenly realize that you are doing something: Monica sometimes caught herself envying her students.18 PROBLEM (T) to discover a problem and stop it from developing any more: This kind of cancer can be cured, provided it is caught early enough.19 HIT (T) to hit someone: catch sb on the chin/face etc: I caught him on the chin with a heavy punch.20 SPORTa) also catch out (T) to end a player's innings in cricket (2) by taking and holding a ball hit off their bat 1 (2a) before it touches the groundb) (I) to be the catcher in a game of baseball21 BE PUNISHED you'll catch it BrE spoken used to tell someone that they are going to be in trouble because they have done something wrong: You'll catch it if your mother finds out where you've been.22 IN A BAD SITUATION be caught in/without etc to be in a situation that is difficult, because you cannot easily get out of it or because you do not have what you need: We got caught in a rainstorm on the way here. | an actor caught without a script23 catch your breatha) to stop breathing for a moment because something has surprised, frightened or shocked youb) 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!24 SHINE ON (T) if the light catches something or if something catches the light, the light shines on it making it look bright: The sunlight caught her hair and turned it to gold.25 CONTAINER (T) if a container catches liquid, it is in a position where the liquid falls into it: Steve! Bring me something to catch the drips under this pipe..26 catch the sun informal to become sunburned (sunburn) so that your skin is red: You've caught the sun on the back of your neck.catch at sth phrasal verb (T) to try to take hold of something: "You mean there's a real fire?" Heather caught at his arm. catch on phrasal verb (I)1 to become popular and fashionable: It was a popular style in Britain but it never really caught on in America.2 to begin to understand or realize something(+ to): It was a long time before the police caught on to what he was really doing. catch sb out phrasal verb (T) BrE1 to make someone make a mistake, especially in order to prove that they are lying: It's a useful technique for handling people who are trying to catch you out.2 if an unexpected event catches you out, it puts you in a difficult situation, because you were not ready to deal with it: Didn't they ever tell you they in fact got caught out by the weather?catch up phrasal verb1 (I, T) to improve so much that you reach the same standard as other people in your class, group etc: If you miss a lot of lessons, it's very difficult to catch up.(+ with): At the moment our technology is more advanced, but other countries are catching up with us.2 (I, T) to come from behind and reach someone in front by going faster(+ with): Drive faster, they're catching up with us. | catch sb up: You go on ahead. I'll catch you up later.3 (I) to do what needs to be done because you have not been able to do it until now(+ on): I have some work to catch up on. | a chance to catch up on some sleep (=after a period without enough sleep) | You have a lot of catching up to do. catch up with sb phrasal verb (T)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 troubles, duties etc catch up with you, you cannot avoid them any longer2 noun1 (C) informal a hidden problem or difficulty; snag 1 (1): The rent is only $40 a week - 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.2 (C) a hook or something similar for fastening a door or lid and keeping it shut3 (C) an act of catching a ball that has been thrown or hit: Hey! Nice catch!4 (C) an amount of fish that has been caught: Local fishermen are reporting record catches.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 be a good catch old-fashioned if a man is a good catch, he is regarded as a very desirable husband, because he is rich and good-looking2
Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.