What Does Catch Up Mean?

Catch Up Meaning

Definition: To talk with someone you have not seen in a while; to do the work that one should have done; to move faster in order to reach someone who is moving the same direction.

Use one: To catch up with someone is to talk about what has been happening in each of your lives after you have not seen each other in some time.

The length of time between seeing someone and catching up with him or her can vary. It is possible to catch up with someone you have not seen in a few hours, and it is possible to catch up with someone who you have not seen in years.

Use two: To catch up on something is to do the word that one should have already done. Perhaps you were sick from school and have work to catch up on. This work should have been done already, but missed class. Now, you need to catch up on it.

Use three: To catch up to someone is to move forward trying to reach someone headed in the same direction. If you are behind in a race, you are trying to catch up to those ahead on you. 

Origin of To Catch Up

The original use of this phrase – which is still used today – means to run after someone in order to get near him. If you catch up with someone in this sense, you have met up with him after not being near him for some time.

Examples of To Catch Up

 we have a lot of catching up to doLet’s go through a few examples of the various uses of this phrase.

Someone might say,

I haven’t seen my fraternity brothers since college. I’m excited to catch up with them at our college reunion.

In this example, the speaker means that he is excited to talk to them and to hear about their lives after not seeing them in person for some time.

Friends do not only have to catch up in person. They can also catch up with each other by talking over the phone, by texting each other, or by emailing. The key is that they are talking with each other about things they have experienced in the time since they have seen or spoken with each other last.

Catch up with youNext up, if you have fallen behind at work, you may need to play catch up.

For example,

Things really piled up when I was on vacation. I need to catch up on a lot of work.

In this example, the worker has to do all of the work that he missed while he was on vacation.

Finally, when you are catching up to someone, you are trying to reach where they are.

For example,

Most of the basketball game was Michigan trying to catch up to Michigan State.

In this example, one team tries to catch up to the other team that is winning.

More Examples

  • Here’s an easy way to catch up with the biggest local stories you might have missed. –Washington Post
  • Carrying a bag of groceries and his new backpack, Haile ran to catch up with the group, which had just rounded a bend. –LA Times


The phrase to catch up has a few different meanings in modern English, all of which are used frequently in everyday conversation.