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Related to catch at: Catch 22
catch at (something)
1. To find or see someone in the act of doing something (often something nefarious). In this usage, the guilty party is stated between "catch" and "at." The detective was able to catch the robbers at their next scheme.
2. To grasp at or clutch something. She must be nervous—she keeps catching at her purse.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
catch someone at somethingand catch someone doing something
to discover someone doing something, especially something bad or shameful. We caught her at her evil deeds. Don't let me catch you doing that again!
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Snatch, grasp, as in The beggars kept catching at their coats. [c. 1600] Also see grasp at straws.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.