catch: to stop someone from escaping, especially by running after them. You'll have to catch me first!, she said, running out of the room.
get: to catch someone, especially before doing something unpleasant to them or punishing them. He ran for his life, but they got him in the end.
corner: to catch someone by forcing them into a room or space that they can't escape from. The man cornered me; there was no way to escape.
catch up with: to catch someone that you have been chasing or trying to catch for some time. It's no use running. Those guards are going to catch up with us sooner or later.
hunt down: to catch someone in order to kill, hurt or punish them or trying very hard to catch them. The soldiers had orders to hunt down the enemies.
trap: to catch someone by skill or cleverness, or by forcing them into a place where they can't escape. Don't call the police from a telephone booth; the attacker could trap you inside.
To catch someone and not let them leave
capture: to catch a person in order to make them a prisoner. Many people at that time were captured and enslaved during the invasions.
round up: To catch several people by bringing them together from different places. The army rounded up the enemies and shot them all.
take somebody prisoner: to catch someone, especially in war and keep him as a prisoner. During World War II he was taken prisoner by the Nazis.
recapture: to catch someone for a second time when they have escaped after being caught once. It's not likely that they will recapture us. We have lost them.
Ways of saying that the police catch a criminal
arrest: the police officer arrests someone when they tell them officially that they have done something illegal, and they take them away. The man was arrested for dangerous driving.
nick: an informal British word meaning "arrest". She was nicked for shoplifting.
pinch: an old-fashioned British word meaning "arrest". I heard that Bob got pinched by the police last night for that bank robbery he did.
collar: catch someone and hold them so that they cannot escape. Did you know Bob was collared last night for that bank robbery he did last week?
take somebody into custody: to catch someone and take them to a police station until a court decides what their punishment will be. He was taken into custody by now, but we still don't know if they're going to release him.
Note: Also catch and get with the same meaning as in the first category.
To catch someone while they are doing something wrong or illegal
catch somebody red-handed: to catch someone who is in the middle of doing something bad or illegal, especially stealing, when they are not expecting it. The maid was caught red-handed stealing things from the house.
catch somebody in the act: to catch someone who is in the middle of doing something bad or illegal, by seeing them do it. We caught the boys in the act while they were stoning the car.
nab somebody: to catch or arrest someone in the act of doing something wrong. The police nabbed him just as he ran out of the shop with the money.
To catch an animal using special equipment or methods
trap: to catch an animal using special equipment that will hold them so that they can't escape. The wolf has been trapped in a cage.
snare: to catch a small animal or a bird using a wire or rope that holds the animal so that it can't move. They went to the fields to check if any rabbit had been snared in the net.
capture: to catch an animal after chasing or following it. We couldn't get close enough to capture the horse.
round up: to catch farm animals, especially cows, horses or sheep, by bringing them together. The dogs helped rounding up the sheep.
To catch an object
intercept: (sports) to catch a pass intended for a member of the offensive team. He intercepted a dangerous pass just on time.
hook: to catch something as with a hook (also for fish).
grab/seize: to take hold of something with a sudden movement. My little sister suddenly grabbed/seized my smartphone.
catch/grab/seize hold of something: to take hold of something quickly and firmly.
snatch: to take something away from somebody with a quick or violent movement. The thief snatched her bag and ran away.
We thank Natalia Notafrancesco (from Buenos Aires, Argentina), Francis Dixon-Clarke (from Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Gabo (from Buenos Aires, Argentina) for their contribution.
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The word sandwich comes from the English diplomat John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. He was such a compulsive gambler that to avoid stopping the game to eat, he would order that this kind of food was brought to his table so as not to waste too much time.