catch as catch can

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catch as catch can (third-person singular simple present catches as catch can, present participle catching as catch can, simple past and past participle -). See Usage notes.

  1. (idiomatic) To use any available means or methods.
    • a. 1681, John Fryer, Richard Chiswell, Robert Roberts, Robert White, A New Account of East-India and Persia, in Eight Letters, Being Nine Years Travels, Begun 1672 and Finished 1681
      Which being done, the Women run in the dark to catch as catch can ; and whatever Lot they light on,

Usage notes[edit]

  • The past and past participle forms are relatively rare. The various forms seem to reflect some uncertainty as to the intrinsic grammar of the expression. They are caught as caught can, caught as catch can, caught as catch could, and caught as caught could. The variety could be taken to confirm that the expression is truly idiomatic.

Related terms[edit]