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[kat-uh-rakt] /ˈkæt əˌrækt/
a descent of water over a steep surface; a waterfall, especially one of considerable size.
any furious rush or downpour of water; deluge.
  1. an abnormality of the eye, characterized by opacity of the lens.
  2. the opaque area.
1350-1400; Middle English cataracte < Latin catar(r)acta < Greek katarráktēs waterfall, floodgate, portcullis (noun), downrushing (adj.), akin to katarássein to dash down, equivalent to kat- cata- + arássein to smite
Related forms
cataractal, cataractous, adjective
cataracted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for cataract
  • One section requires working your way up a waterfall, and another leads behind a cataract.
  • To make cataract treatment available to more people around the world, a less-invasive, less-expensive technique is needed.
  • Patients needing operations such as cataract removals no longer have to wait for ages.
  • Enough money was raised to perform cataract surgery, successfully replace his lenses, and enable breeding to resume.
  • First, she had cataract surgery that left her vision worse.
  • Had to trim plastic sleeve with razor knife a bit to get to work with cataract oar.
  • It sometimes occurs after certain types of eye surgery, such as cataract surgery.
  • Patients who are planning cataract or other eye surgery should be sure to inform their doctors prior to the surgery.
  • Even if a cataract does progress, it may be years before it interferes with vision.
  • If a cataract is not bothersome, then surgery is usually not necessary.
British Dictionary definitions for cataract


a large waterfall or rapids
a deluge; downpour
  1. partial or total opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye
  2. the opaque area
Word Origin
C15: from Latin catarracta, from Greek katarrhaktēs, from katarassein to dash down, from arassein to strike
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 cataract
1430, from L. cataracta "waterfall," from Gk. katarhaktes "swooping, rushing down," from kata "down" + arhattein "to strike hard." Its alternative sense in L. of "portcullis" was probably passed through M.Fr. to form the Eng. meaning "eye disease" (1547), on the notion of "obstruction."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cataract in Medicine

cataract cat·a·ract (kāt'ə-rākt')
Opacity of the lens or capsule of the eye, causing impairment of vision or blindness.

cat'a·rac'tous (-rāk'təs) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cataract in Science
  1. An opacity of the lens of the eye or the membrane that covers it, causing impairment of vision or blindness.

  2. A waterfall in which a large volume of water flows over a steep precipice.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cataract in Culture
cataract [(kat-uh-rakt)]

A loss in the transparency of the lens of the eye, which reduces a person's ability to see. The condition can be treated by surgically removing the lens and replacing it with an artificial one, or with corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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