early 15c., prosecuten, "to follow up, pursue with a view to carry out or obtain" (some course or action), from Latin prosecutus, past participle of prosequi "follow after, accompany; chase, pursue; attack, assail, abuse," from pro- "forward" (see pro-) + sequi "follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow"). Meaning "bring to a court of law, seek to obtain by legal process" is recorded from 1570s. The Latin verb in Old French became prosequer, vulgarly porsuir, which passed to English as pursue.
"to chase up a tree," 1700, from tree (n.). Meaning "take a tree-like form" is from 1884. Related: Treed; treeing.
1550s, yeaghe "a light, fast-sailing ship," from Norwegian jaght or early Dutch jaght, both from Middle Low German jacht, shortened form of jachtschip "fast pirate ship," literally "ship for chasing," from jacht "chase," from jagen "to chase, hunt," from Old High German jagon, from Proto-Germanic *yago-, from PIE root *yek- (2) "to hunt" (source also of Hittite ekt- "hunting net"). Related: Yachting; yachtsman.
"to chase, set upon" (as in command sick him!), 1845, a dialectal variant of seek. As it was an imperative to incite a dog to attack a person or animal, it came to mean "cause to pursue." Related: Sicked; sicking.
c. 1200, "to take, capture," from Anglo-French or Old North French cachier "catch, capture" animals (Old French chacier "hunt, pursue, drive" animals, Modern French chasser "to hunt"), from Vulgar Latin *captiare "try to seize, chase" (also source of Spanish cazar, Italian cacciare), from Latin captare "to take, hold," frequentative of capere "to take, hold" (from PIE root *kap- "to grasp"). A doublet of chase (v.).
Its senses in early Middle English also included "to chase, hunt," which later went with chase (v.). Of sleep, etc., from early 14c.; of infections from 1540s; of fire from 1734 (compare Greek aptō "fasten, join, attach, grasp, touch," also "light, kindle, set on fire, catch on fire"). Related: Catched (obsolete); catching; caught.
The meaning "act as a catcher in baseball" is recorded from 1865. To catch on "apprehend, understand" is by 1884, American English colloquial. To catch the eye "draw the attention" is attested by 1718. Catch as catch can has roots in late 14c. (cacche who that cacche might).
"to fall away from the line of a course," 1580s (as a noun 1540s), perhaps ultimately from Old Norse jaga, Old Danish jæge "to drive, chase," from Middle Low German jagen (see yacht).