Break It Down: Cata

Learn these words derived from the Greek root kata-, which has a range of meanings including "down," "through," "against" "across," "along with," and "wrongly."

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. cataclysm
    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
    These pictures individualize general cataclysms such as war, disease and displacement.Washington Post (Dec 1, 2016)
  2. cataclysmic
    severely destructive
    This first performance of a planned 17-show run marked a high point for island residents still working through the difficult, often heart-wrenching process of recovering from cataclysmic Hurricane Maria in 2017.Los Angeles Times (Jan 12, 2019)
  3. catalogue
    a book or pamphlet containing an enumeration of things
    In the corner of his room catalogues piled up— catalogues for machinery, furnishings, seeds, fruit trees.East of Eden
  4. catalyst
    something that causes an important event to happen
    The Tokyo 2020 Games will be long remembered as a catalyst of the biggest social transformation for Tokyo and Japan in this era.”Reuters (Nov 29, 2018)
  5. catapult
    shoot forth or launch
    It released the SpaceShipTwo passenger craft at an altitude of about 44,000 feet and then the spaceship was catapulted to 55 miles above Earth.Reuters (Feb 22, 2019)
  6. cataract
    disease that involves the clouding of the lens of the eye
    But Ged paid him for it in sorcerers’ kind, healing his eyes of the cataracts that were in the way of blinding him.A Wizard of Earthsea
  7. catastrophe
    an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
    We are once again invited to explore a cinematic vision of a self-inflicted catastrophe, complete with volcanic magma flowing through downtown areas, hailstorms tearing through city buses, and monsoons toppling skyscrapers like sand castles.Scientific American (Nov 30, 2017)
  8. catastrophic
    extremely harmful; bringing physical or financial ruin
    Frequent catastrophic flooding prompted civic leaders and the corps a century ago to begin taming the river system with infrastructure.Los Angeles Times (Feb 24, 2019)
  9. catatonic
    characterized by unresponsiveness or lack of movement
    "The man was just sitting there, staring into space, eyes wide open in this catatonic state with paramedics all over him."BBC (Mar 7, 2018)
  10. categorical
    not modified or restricted by reservations
    The categorical tone of the new assessments reflects scientists' growing confidence in the ability to detect the role of a changing climate in individual extreme events, such as heat waves and droughts.Washington Post (Nov 23, 2018)
  11. category
    a general concept that marks divisions or coordinations
    The scale ranges from a “weak” category 1 that mostly brings helpful precipitation to an “exceptional” category 5 that’s far more hazardous than helpful.The Verge (Feb 27, 2019)
  12. cathedral
    any large and important church
    He reads about how the pyramids and Greek temples and Medieval cathedrals were built, studying the plans of churches and palaces in his textbook.The Namesake
  13. catheter
    a thin flexible tube inserted into the body
    Surgeons use catheters — long tubes — that they watch on monitors as they manipulate them to perform the repairs needed.Salon (Feb 24, 2019)
  14. cation
    a particle with a positive electric charge
    This breakthrough provided a snapshot of the structure of the light-activated channel and hinted at how cations are selectively conducted through it.Nature (Sep 16, 2018)
  15. scaffold
    a temporary arrangement erected around a building
    The ceiling was held up with a combination of steel scaffolding and old granite Roman columns.The Mark of Athena
    The Greek word kata ("down") and the Latin word fala ("wooden tower") combined to make the Vulgar Latin word catafalicum, which entered Old French as eschafaut. In Modern French, the word is échafa, from eschace meaning "support." In the 16th century, the word also came to denote a raised stage or platform where someone was executed.

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