catechist (n.) Look up catechist at Dictionary.com
1560s, from Church Latin catechista, from Greek katekhistes "one who catechizes," from katekhizein "to teach orally" (see catechize). Related: Catechistic; catechistical.
catechize (v.) Look up catechize at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Church Latin catechizare "to teach by word of mouth" (also source of French catéchiser, Spanish catequizar, Italian catechizzare), from Greek katekhizein "teach orally, instruct by word of mouth," from katekhein "to resound" (see catechesis). Related: Catechized; catechizing.
catecholamine (n.) Look up catecholamine at Dictionary.com
type of hormone, from catechol (1880), from catechu, 17c. name for an astringent substance used in medicines, dyeing, etc., which apparently is from Malay (Austronesian) kachu.
catechumen (n.) Look up catechumen at Dictionary.com
"new convert," 15c., from French catéchumène, from Church Latin catechumenus, from Greek katekhoumenos "one being instructed," passive present participle of katekhein (see catechesis).
categorical (adj.) Look up categorical at Dictionary.com
1590s, as a term in logic, "unqualified, asserting absolutely," from Late Latin categoricus, from Greek kategorikos "accusatory, affirmative, categorical," from kategoria (see category). General sense of "explicit, unconditional" is from 1610s. Categorical imperative, from the philosophy of Kant, first recorded 1827. Related: Categorically.
categorization (n.) Look up categorization at Dictionary.com
1866, noun of action from categorize. Perhaps influenced by French catégorisation (1845).
categorize (v.) Look up categorize at Dictionary.com
1705, from category + -ize. Related: Categorized; categorizing.
category (n.) Look up category at Dictionary.com
1580s, from Middle French catégorie, from Late Latin categoria, from Greek kategoria "accusation, prediction, category," verbal noun from kategorein "to speak against; to accuse, assert, predicate," from kata "down to" (or perhaps "against;" see cata-) + agoreuein "to harangue, to declaim (in the assembly)," from agora "public assembly" (see agora). Original sense of "accuse" weakened to "assert, name" by the time Aristotle applied kategoria to his 10 classes of things that can be named.
category should be used by no-one who is not prepared to state (1) that he does not mean class, & (2) that he knows the difference between the two .... [Fowler]
catenary (adj.) Look up catenary at Dictionary.com
1872, from Latin catenarius "relating to a chain," from catenanus "chained, fettered," from catena "chain, fetter, shackle" (see chain (n.)). As a noun from 1788 in mathematics. Related: Catenarian.
cater (v.) Look up cater at Dictionary.com
"provide food for," c. 1600, from Middle English catour (n.) "buyer of provisions" (c. 1400; late 13c. as a surname), a shortening of Anglo-French achatour "buyer" (Old North French acatour, Old French achatour, 13c., Modern French acheteur), from Old French achater "to buy," originally "to buy provisions," perhaps from Vulgar Latin *accaptare, from Latin ad- "to" + captare "to take, hold," frequentative of capere "to take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."

Or else from Vulgar Latin *accapitare "to add to one's capital," with second element from verbal stem of Latin caput (genitive capitis); see capital (adj.). Figuratively from 1650s. Related: Catered; catering.
caterer (n.) Look up caterer at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., earlier simply cater (see cater (v.)). With redundant -er (compare poulterer, sorcerer, upholsterer).
caterpillar (n.) Look up caterpillar at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., catyrpel, probably altered (by association with Middle English piller "plunderer;" see pillage) from Old North French caterpilose "caterpillar" (Old French chatepelose), literally "shaggy cat" (probably in reference to the "wooly-bear" variety), from Late Latin catta pilosa, from catta "cat" (see cat (n.)) + pilosus "hairy, shaggy, covered with hair," from pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)). Compare also French chenille "caterpillar," literally "little dog." A Swiss German name for it is teufelskatz "devil's cat." "The caterpillar has in many idioms received the name of other animals" [Kitchin, who cites also Milanese cagnon "little dog," Italian dialectal gattola "little cat," Kentish hop-dog, hop-cat, Portuguese lagarta "lizard." Compare also American English wooly-bear for the hairy variety. An Old English name for it was cawelworm "cole-worm." Caterpillar tractor is from 1908.
caterwaul (v.) Look up caterwaul at Dictionary.com
late 14c., caterwrawen, perhaps from Low German katerwaulen "cry like a cat," or formed in English from cater, from Middle Dutch cater "tomcat" + Middle English waul "to yowl," apparently from Old English *wrag, *wrah "angry," of uncertain origin but all somehow imitative. Related: Caterwauled; caterwauling.
catfish (n.) Look up catfish at Dictionary.com
1610s, from cat (n.) + fish (n.). Probably so called for its "whiskers."
catgut (n.) Look up catgut at Dictionary.com
1590s, altered from kitgut, probably from obsolete kit (n.2) "fiddle" + gut (n.). It was made from the intestines of sheep.
Cathar (n.) Look up Cathar at Dictionary.com
1570s, "religious puritan" (implied in Catharism), from Medieval Latin Cathari "the Pure," name taken by Novatians and other Christian sects, from New Testament Greek katharizein "to make clean," from Greek katharos "pure." Related: Catharist.
catharsis (n.) Look up catharsis at Dictionary.com
1803, "bodily purging," from Latinized form of Greek katharsis "purging, cleansing," from stem of kathairein "to purify, purge," from katharos "pure, clear of dirt, clean, spotless; open, free; clear of shame or guilt; purified" (with most of the extended senses now found in Modern English clear, clean, pure), which is of unknown origin. Originally medical in English; of emotions from 1872; psychotherapy sense first recorded 1909, in Brill's translation of Freud.
cathartic (adj.) Look up cathartic at Dictionary.com
1610s, of medicines, from Latin catharticus, from Greek kathartikos "fit for cleansing, purgative," from katharsis "purging, cleansing" (see catharsis). General sense is from 1670s. Related: Cathartical.
Cathay (n.) Look up Cathay at Dictionary.com
1560s, poetic name for "China," from Medieval Latin Cataya, from Turkish Khitai, from Uighur Khitai, name of a Tatar dynasty that ruled Beijing 936-1122.
cathected (adj.) Look up cathected at Dictionary.com
1936, psychoanalysis jargon, back-formation from cathectic (1927), from Greek kathektikos, from kathexis (see cathexis).
cathedra (n.) Look up cathedra at Dictionary.com
"seat of a bishop in his church," Latin, literally "chair" (see cathedral).
cathedral (n.) Look up cathedral at Dictionary.com
1580s, "church of a bishop," from phrase cathedral church (c. 1300), partially translating Late Latin ecclesia cathedralis "church of a bishop's seat," from Latin cathedra "an easy chair (principally used by ladies)," also metonymically, as in cathedrae molles "luxurious women;" also "a professor's chair;" from Greek kathedra "seat, bench," from kata "down" (see cata-) + hedra "seat, base, chair, face of a geometric solid," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit."

It was born an adjective, and attempts to cobble further adjectivization onto it in 17c. yielded cathedraical (1670s), cathedratic (1660s), cathedratical (1660s), after which the effort seems to have been given up.
Catherine Look up Catherine at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from French Catherine, from Medieval Latin Katerina, from Latin Ecaterina, from Greek Aikaterine. The -h- was introduced 16c., probably a folk etymology from Greek katharos "pure" (see catharsis). The initial Greek vowel is preserved in Russian form Ekaterina.

As the name of a type of pear, attested from 1640s. Catherine wheel (early 13c.) is named for St. Catherine of Alexandria (martyred 307), legendary virgin from the time of Maximinus who was tortured on a spiked wheel and thus became the patron saint of spinners. Her name day is Nov. 25. A popular saint in the Middle Ages, which accounts for the long popularity of the given name.
catheter (n.) Look up catheter at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, from French cathéter, from Late Latin catheter "a catheter," from Greek katheter "surgical catheter," literally "anything let down," from stem of kathienai "to let down, thrust in," from kata "down" (see cata-) + stem of hienai "to send" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Earlier was cathirum (early 15c.), directly from Medieval Latin. Related: Catheterization; catheterized; catheterizing.
cathexis (n.) Look up cathexis at Dictionary.com
1922, from Latinized form of Greek kathexis "holding, retention," from PIE root *segh- "to hold." Used by psychologists to render Freud's (libido)besetzung.
cathode (n.) Look up cathode at Dictionary.com
1834, from Latinized form of Greek kathodos "a way down," from kata- "down" (see cata-) + hodos "a way, path, track, road," a word of uncertain origin. Proposed by the Rev. William Whewell (1794-1866), English polymath, and published by English chemist and physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867). So called from the path the electric current was supposed to take. Related: Cathodic; cathodal. Cathode ray first attested 1880, but the phenomenon known from 1859; cathode ray tube is from 1905.
catholic (adj.) Look up catholic at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "of the doctrines of the ancient Church," literally "universally accepted," from French catholique, from Church Latin catholicus "universal, general," from Greek katholikos, from phrase kath' holou "on the whole, in general," from kata "about" + genitive of holos "whole" (see safe (adj.)). Applied to the Church in Rome c. 1554, after the Reformation began. General sense of "of interest to all, universal" is from 1550s. The Latin word was rendered in Old English as eallgeleaflic.
Catholic (n.) Look up Catholic at Dictionary.com
"member of the Roman Catholic church," 1560s, from Catholic (adj.).
Catholicism (n.) Look up Catholicism at Dictionary.com
"faith and practice of the Catholic church," 1610s, from Catholic + -ism.
catholicity (n.) Look up catholicity at Dictionary.com
1830, "catholicism," from catholic + -ity. Meaning "quality of being inclusive or comprehensive" is by 1843.
Catiline (adj.) Look up Catiline at Dictionary.com
from Lucius Sergius Catilina, Roman official who plotted an uprising 63 B.C.E. and was exposed by Cicero in a famous oration, taken since 1590s as a type of a reckless conspirator.
cation (n.) Look up cation at Dictionary.com
1834, from Greek kation "going down," neuter present participle of katienai "to go down," from kata "down" (see cata-) + ienai "to go" (from PIE root *ei- "to go"). Proposed by the Rev. William Whewell (1794-1866), English polymath, and published by English physicist Michael Faraday.
catkin (n.) Look up catkin at Dictionary.com
1570s, from Dutch katteken "flowering stem of willow, birch, hazel, etc.," literally "kitten," diminutive of katte "cat" (see cat (n.)). So called for their soft, furry appearance.
catnap (n.) Look up catnap at Dictionary.com
also cat-nap, cat's nap, by 1823, from cat (n.) + nap (n.). A nap such as a cat takes. As a verb from 1859.
catnip (n.) Look up catnip at Dictionary.com
1712, American English, from cat (n.) + nip, from Old English nepte "catnip," from Latin nepta, name of an aromatic herb. The older name is Middle English catmint (mid-13c.).
catoblepas (n.) Look up catoblepas at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Latin catoblepas, from Greek katobleps, from kato "downward" (related to cata-) + blepein "to look," but this might be ancient folk etymology. Name given by ancient authors to some African animal.
A wylde beest that hyghte Catoblefas and hath a lytyll body and nyce in all membres and a grete heed hangynge alway to-warde the erth. [John of Trevisa, translation of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]
catoptric (adj.) Look up catoptric at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to mirrors or a mirror," 1774, from Latinized form of Greek katoptrikos, from katoptron "mirror," from kata "against" (see cata-) + stem of optos "seen, visible" (from PIE root *okw- "to see") + instrumental suffix -tron. Related: Catoptrics; catoptrical.
catoptromancy (n.) Look up catoptromancy at Dictionary.com
"divination by means of a mirror," 1610s, from Latinized comb. form of Greek katoptron "mirror" (see catoptric) + -mancy.
catsuit (n.) Look up catsuit at Dictionary.com
also cat-suit, 1960, from cat (n.) + suit (n.).
catsup Look up catsup at Dictionary.com
see ketchup.
cattail (n.) Look up cattail at Dictionary.com
also cat's tail, type of plant, mid-15c., from cat (n.) + tail (n.).
cattish (adj.) Look up cattish at Dictionary.com
1590s, "cat-like," from cat (n.) + -ish. From 1883 as "catty." Related: Cattishly; cattishness.
cattle (n.) Look up cattle at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., "property," from Anglo-French catel "property" (Old North French catel, Old French chatel), from Medieval Latin capitale "property, stock," noun use of neuter of Latin adjective capitalis "principal, chief," literally "of the head," from caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Compare sense development of fee, pecuniary. Sense originally was of movable property, especially livestock; it began to be limited to "cows and bulls" from late 16c.
catty (adj.) Look up catty at Dictionary.com
1886, "devious and spiteful," from cat (n.) + -y (2). Slightly earlier was cattish. Meaning "pertaining to cats" is from 1902. Related: Cattily; cattiness.
catty-cornered (adj., adv.) Look up catty-cornered at Dictionary.com
1838, earlier cater-cornered (1835, American English), from now-obsolete cater "to set or move diagonally" (1570s), from Middle French catre "four," from Latin quattuor (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four"). Compare carrefour.
catwalk (n.) Look up catwalk at Dictionary.com
1885, "long, narrow footway," from cat (n.) + walk (n.); in reference to such narrowness of passage one has to cross carefully, as a cat walks. Originally of ships and theatrical back-stages. Application to fashion show runways is by 1942.
Caucasian (adj.) Look up Caucasian at Dictionary.com
1807, from Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian seas; applied to the "white" race 1795 (in German) by German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach, because its supposed ancestral homeland lay there; since abandoned as a historical/anthropological term. (See Aryan).
Caucasian (n.) Look up Caucasian at Dictionary.com
"resident or native of the Caucasus," 1843; see Caucasus + -ian. Meaning "one of the 'white' race" is from 1958 (earlier Caucasoid, 1956).
Caucasus (n.) Look up Caucasus at Dictionary.com
mountain range between Europe and the Middle East, from Latin Caucasus, from Greek kaukasis, said by Pliny ("Natural History," book six, chap. XVII) to be from a Scythian word similar to kroy-khasis, literally "(the mountain) ice-shining, white with snow." But possibly from a Pelasgian root *kau- meaning "mountain."
caucus (n.) Look up caucus at Dictionary.com
"private meeting of party leaders," 1763, American English (New England), perhaps from an Algonquian word caucauasu "counselor, elder, adviser" in the dialect of Virginia, or from the Caucus Club of Boston, a 1760s social & political club whose name possibly derived from Modern Greek kaukos "drinking cup." Another old guess is caulker's (meeting) [Pickering, 1816], but OED finds this dismissable.
CAUCUS. This noun is used throughout the United States, as a cant term for those meetings, which are held by the different political parties, for the purpose of agreeing upon candidates for office, or concerting any measure, which they intend to carry at the subsequent public, or town meetings. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]

The word caucus, and its derivative caucusing, are often used in Boston. The last answers much to what we stile parliamenteering or electioneering. All my repeated applications to different gentlemen have not furnished me with a satisfactory account of the origin of caucus. It seems to mean, a number of persons, whether more or less, met together to consult upon adopting and prosecuting some scheme of policy, for carrying a favorite point. [William Gordon, "History, Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America," London, 1788]