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[v. in-ter-sept; n. in-ter-sept] /v. ˌɪn tərˈsɛpt; n. ˈɪn tərˌsɛpt/
verb (used with object)
to take, seize, or halt (someone or something on the way from one place to another); cut off from an intended destination:
to intercept a messenger.
to see or overhear (a message, transmission, etc., meant for another):
We intercepted the enemy's battle plan.
to stop or check (passage, travel, etc.):
to intercept the traitor's escape.
Sports. to take possession of (a ball or puck) during an attempted pass by an opposing team.
to stop or interrupt the course, progress, or transmission of.
to destroy or disperse (enemy aircraft or a missile or missiles) in the air on the way to a target.
to stop the natural course of (light, water, etc.).
Mathematics. to mark off or include, as between two points or lines.
to intersect.
Obsolete. to prevent or cut off the operation or effect of.
Obsolete. to cut off from access, sight, etc.
an interception.
  1. an intercepted segment of a line.
  2. (in a coordinate system) the distance from the origin to the point at which a curve or line intersects an axis.
Origin of intercept
1535-45; < Latin interceptus past participle of intercipere, equivalent to inter- inter- + -cep- (combining form of cap-, stem of capere to take) + -tus past participle suffix; cf. incipient
Related forms
interceptive, adjective
nonintercepting, adjective
noninterceptive, adjective
unintercepted, adjective
unintercepting, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for intercept
  • The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.
  • Yet they seem almost powerless to spot or intercept the small inflatable skiffs employed by pirates to sneak up on their victims.
  • The leaves of the upper canopy intercept raindrops and reduce their impact on vegetation and butterflies below.
  • Sadly, our intercept will make that outcome harder to achieve, not easier.
  • The relief well was expected to intercept the stricken well about four days later.
  • Fighters were routinely dispatched to intercept them.
  • Move the moon into an intercept orbit over a period of years.
  • Everything gets distributed into smaller loads, and it's much harder to identify and intercept.
  • The crew sends the plane instructions to fly on a course to intercept the vehicle.
  • Every day, they intercept an illicit flow of narcotics, money and weapons headed both north and south across the border.
British Dictionary definitions for intercept


verb (transitive) (ˌɪntəˈsɛpt)
to stop, deflect, or seize on the way from one place to another; prevent from arriving or proceeding
(sport) to seize or cut off (a pass) on its way from one opponent to another
(maths) to cut off, mark off, or bound (some part of a line, curve, plane, or surface)
noun (ˈɪntəˌsɛpt)
  1. a point at which two figures intersect
  2. the distance from the origin to the point at which a line, curve, or surface cuts a coordinate axis
  3. an intercepted segment
(sport, US & Canadian) the act of intercepting an opponent's pass
Derived Forms
interception, noun
interceptive, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin intercipere to seize before arrival, from inter- + capere to take
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for intercept

c.1400, from Latin interceptus, past participle of intercipere "take or seize between, to seize in passing," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + -cipere, comb. form of capere "to take, catch" (see capable). Related: Intercepted; intercepting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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intercept in Science
In a Cartesian coordinate system, the coordinate of a point at which a line, curve, or surface intersects a coordinate axis. If a curve intersects the x-axis at (4,0), then 4 is the curve's x-intercept; if the curve intersects the y-axis at (0,2), then 2 is its y-intercept.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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