1. verb To see, and perhaps apprehend, someone in the act of doing something (often something nefarious). The robbers were arrested when the police caught them looting another house. I don't watch to catch you kids doing this ever again—the tool shed is far too dangerous to play in!
2. verb, slang To see or hear a specific program or event, typically as broadcast on the TV or radio. Did you catch the game last night? What a crazy ending!
3. verb To hear and/or understand something that has been said. I'm sorry, I didn't catch that last part. Can you repeat it?
4. verb To contract a contagious illness. All of my students are sick right now, so I'm not surprised that I've caught a cold, too. With the way you've been sneezing all day, I really hope I don't catch what you have!
5. verb To encounter or meet with someone, typically for the purpose of communicating with them. This usage often suggests that the person is busy or rushed, and therefore may have limited availability. Hey, I'm glad I caught you—how's your mom doing? Peg has to sign off on your expense report, so be sure to catch her before she leaves the office. I'll catch you later, man.
6. verb To receive a punishment or reprimand. The phrase "catch it" is usually used for this usage. If I get home past curfew again, I'm really going to catch it from my parents!
7. verb To notice a problem, error, or inconsistency, often one that is inconspicuous. Oh, Jen caught that spelling error—I never even noticed it.
8. verb To notice or detect something. Did you catch the joke at the beginning of the movie? It was pretty subtle. I opened the window and caught a whiff of dinner cooking next door.
9. verb In baseball or softball, to play the position of catcher. Joe is sick, so we need someone else to catch tonight.
10. verb To reach a mode of transportation before it departs. Of course we hit a major traffic jam when I have a plane to catch! Oh, she did catch the bus—the driver saw her running and waited for her.
11. verb To stop oneself from doing something. In this usage, "catch" is followed by a reflexive pronoun. Bill tripped over the step but managed to catch himself on the railing before falling. I almost asked about her boyfriend when I caught myself, remembering that they had broken up.
12. noun A game in which two or more people throw a ball back and forth between them. Now that the weather is nice, you boys should go outside and play catch.
13. noun A problem, drawback, or hidden detriment, often one that is initially concealed as a means of entrapment. I know this sounds like a great job offer, but there's a pretty big catch—I'd have to move across the country. Why are you selling this for so little? What's the catch?
14. noun An audible break or hesitation in one's voice (typically when one is very emotional). When I heard the catch in her voice, I knew my mom had bad news for me.
15. noun An amount of something that has been caught or captured, such as while fishing. A: "What was your catch today, boys?" B: "Not great, Earl—only five fish."
16. noun The identification or recognition of a problem, error, or inconsistency, often one that is inconspicuous. I never would have noticed that spelling error—good catch!
17. noun An ideal suitor or prospective mate. Tom's a good-looking guy with a six-figure income—he's a real catch!
tv. to see or listen to something. (More specific than the colloquial sense, to manage to hear something.) Did you catch that radio program about cancer last night?