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1. To become popular or widespread. Judging by my students, that obnoxious song is really starting to catch on.
2. To learn or understand something, sometimes after an initial struggle to do so. Thanks for explaining that concept to me—I think I'm catching on now.
catch something on something
to snag something on something. I caught the pocket of my trousers on the drawer pull and almost ripped it off. He caught the sleeve of his uniform on a branch.
catch on (with someone)
Fig. [for something] to become popular with someone. I hope our new product catches on with children. I'm sure it will catch on.
(to something) Fig. to figure something out. (See also get onto someone.) I finally caught on to what she was talking about. It takes a while for me to catch on.
1. Understand, as in Aunt Mary doesn't catch on to any jokes. The verb to catch alone was used with this meaning from Shakespeare's time, on being added in the late 1800s. Also see get it, def. 2.
2. Become popular, as in This new dance is really beginning to catch on. [Late 1800s]
1. To snag something on something: I caught the sleeve of my jacket on a branch, and it ripped.
2. To understand or figure something out: We played a practice game so that the new players could catch on before we started betting. We were slow to catch on to the swindler's tricks.
3. To become popular or fashionable: Since the time when skateboarding first caught on, there have been many improvements in wheel design.