Go to 'thermo-' entry Go to 'dino-' entry Go to 'chondro-' entry Go to 'aero-' entry Go to '-logy' entry Go to 'thaumato-' entry Go to 'nano-' entry Go to '-sophy' entry Go to 'bucco-' entry Go to '-ism' entry Go to '-lysis' entry Go to 'galacto-' entry Go to '-anthropy' entry Go to 'pneumo-' entry Go to '-ploitation' entry Go to '-lithic' entry Go to '-sepalous' entry Go to 'onco-' entry Go to '-parous' entry Go to 'dermato-' entry Go to 'multi-' entry Go to 'dodeca-' entry Go to '-zoon' entry Go to 'vermi-' entry Go to 'crystallo-' entry Go to 'biblio-' entry Go to 'eco-' entry Go to 'juxta-' entry Go to 'facio-' entry
Affixes: the building blocks of English
Affixes: the building blocks of English

cat(a)- Also cath- and kata-.

Movement downwards; figuratively, wrong or inferior.

[Greek kata-, down.]

Many English words beginning in cata- entered the language from Greek with the prefix already attached: cataract (Greek kataraktēs, down-rushing); cataclysm (Greek kataklusmos, deluge—the word was originally applied to the Biblical flood); catarrh (Greek katarrhein, flow down); catapult (Greek katapeltēs, hurling down); and catastrophe (Greek katastrophē, a sudden overturning or down-turning).

Among modern formations are catabolism (Greek ballein, to throw), the process of breaking down food to release energy, and catalyst (Greek luein, loosen), a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without itself being consumed.

The variant form cath- is used before h, as in catheter (Greek hienai, to let go); cathode (Greek hodos, way), the electrode through which electrons enter a device.

Cata- is not an active word-forming element; recent examples tend to be spelt kata- and some technical terms in cata- have alternative forms in k. Examples include katabatic, a local wind flowing down a hillside at night, and kataplexy (also spelt cataplexy), a state imitating death adopted by some animals when alarmed.

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