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a prefix meaning “down,” “against,” “back,” occurring originally in loanwords from Greek (cataclysm; catalog; catalepsy); on this model, used in the formation of other compound words (catagenesis; cataphyll).
Also, cat-, cath-, kata-.
< Greek kata-, combining form of katá down, through, against, according to, towards, during Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for cata-


down; downwards; lower in position catadromous, cataphyll
indicating reversal, opposition, degeneration, etc cataplasia, catatonia
Word Origin
from Greek kata-, from kata. In compound words borrowed from Greek, kata- means: down (catabolism), away, off (catalectic), against (category), according to (catholic), and thoroughly (catalogue)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for cata-
from Gk. kata-, before vowels kat-. Its principal sense is "down," but with occasional senses of "against" or "wrongly." Also sometimes used as an intensive. Most Eng. words with this prefix were borrowed through L. after 1500; e.g. catalectic (1589) "wanting a syllable in the last foot."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cata- in Medicine

cata- pref.

  1. Down: catabolism.

  2. Reverse; backward; degenerative: cataplasia.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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