catchy (adj.)

"having the quality of 'catching' in the mind," 1831, from catch (v.) + -y (2). Considered colloquial at first. Related: Catchiness.

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."

updated on November 13, 2022