also catchphrase, "phrase caught up and repeated," 1837, from catch (v.) + phrase (n.). The notion is of words that will "catch" in the mind (compare catchword, which is older and might have suggested this word; also catchy). From the first in a political context, also of lines from plays that became popular.
This new experiment consists in a "divorce of bank and State." This is a mere catch-phrase, which was originally introduced by artful and designing politicians to impose upon the credulity and honesty of the people. Many have adopted it without reflecting or inquiring as to its import, or its consequences. [Sen. Talmage (Georgia), U.S. Senate debate on the Sub-Treasury Bill, Sept. 22, 1837]
In political or partisan squibs, the introduction of such phrases may be properly allowed, though sparingly ; for they are most undoubtedly a species of ornament that soon nauseates upon repetition. There is a still lower species of "slang," consisting of the "catch phrase of the day," in great vogue among the gods at the minor theatres, that we only mention to reprobate entirely ; and which, as common sense is no ingredient in its concoction, is as destitute of energy as it is abhorrent to a cultivated ear. ["T.A.," "Guide for the Writing-Desk; or, Young Author's and Secretary's Friend," etc., London, 1846]
late Old English cachepol "tax-gatherer," from Old North French cachepol (Old French chacepol), from Medieval Latin cacepollus "a tax gatherer," perhaps literally "chase-chicken." For first element see chase (v.), for second see pullet. The explanation would be that, in lieu of taxes they would confiscate poultry. Later in English more specifically as "a sheriff's officer whose duty was to make arrests for debt" (late 14c.). Compare Old French chacipolerie "tax paid to a nobleman by his subjects allowing them and their families to shelter in his castle in war-time." The connection of poll (n.) "head" with taxes is from 17c. and too late to be involved in this word.
"a working to overtake a leading rival," by 1971, probably a figurative use from U.S. football in reference to being behind in the score. The verbal phrase catch up was used from early 14c. in the sense of "raise aloft," it is attested from c. 1400 as "to take up suddenly," and by 1846 in the sense of "get to the same point, overtake;" see catch (v.) + up (adv.).
1730, "the first word of the following page inserted at the lower right-hand corner of each page of a book," as a guide to the binders, from catch (v.) + word (n.); extended to "word caught up and repeated" (especially in the political sense) by 1795. The thing in the literal sense is extinct; the figurative sense thrives.
There is, also, by far too much of routine both in the selection of subjects, and in the mode of treating them, notwithstanding the oddity that is sometimes substituted for originality. Should this system be persevered in, there is great danger of every thing becoming forced and unnatural, and all other qualities sacrificed to a catchy, stage-like effect, both as regards subject, composition, and execution. ["The Suffolk Street Exhibit," in Fraser's Magazine, July, 1831]
It is attested earlier (1827) in medical writing with reference to breathing, and was noted by Jamieson (1818) and others as a Scottish word for "quick to learn; disposed to take advantage of another."
"consisting of questions and answers," 1660s, from Latinized form of Greek katēkhetikos, from katekhetēs "an instructor," from katēkhizein "teach orally, instruct by word of mouth," from katēkhein "to resound" (see catechesis). Related: Catechectical(1610s).
"oral instruction, catechism," 1753, from Latinized form of Greek katēkhesis "instruction by word of mouth," from katēkhein "to instruct orally," originally "to resound" (with sense evolution via "to sound (something) in someone's ear" to "to teach by word of mouth"). This is from kata "down" (in this case, "thoroughly;" see cata-) + ēkhein "to sound, ring," from ēkhē "sound" (see echo (n.)).