Meaning of "a little catch"


‘…but there was a little catch in her voice…’

Does catch here mean some natural hesitation (e.g., involuntary halt in a speech) or, to the contrary, some special effect made and used to attract additional attention of listeners?

(From the context I’d suppose the first, but general meanings of ‘catch’ seem to refer me rather to the second.)


Hi Tamara

Imagine a very unhappy young child who is talking. The child is just about to start crying or has just finished crying but seems ready to begin again. When the child speaks, then you’ll probably hear a catch or several catches in the child’s voice. If the child tries to speak while crying, there will probably be larger catches in his/her voice.

Strong emotion (positive or negative) often causes “a catch in the voice”. It’s an unintended break or pause in the voice, sometimes a bit like a short choking sound.

Does that help? :wink:


Hi Amy

Yes, your brilliant example matches well for what I just supposed. :slight_smile: In my context.
Something unintended and irresistible. Regular or just temporary – because of physiological condition (anxiety) or some natural (physiological) reason (bitter crying :().

The only contra-example, I’ve manage to find :slight_smile: (and it was also why I doubted and asked for clarification), is given in/on: … storyid=52

There was silence. Pauline Murrah added, with an effective little catch in her voice, “And you know what that will mean.”

(Just in case: I didn’t read the text entirely. Just a close context for the word used.)

Thank you!

Hi Tamara

Yes, if someone intentionally (and successfully) adds a catch to their voice, then that person is more or less “acting”. The person wants the listener to believe that he/she is so filled with emotion that it’s causing an “unintended” catch in the voice. :wink: