Green’s Dictionary of Slang

catch n.

1. one who is seen as matrimonially desirable; often in phrs. a good catch, no catch.

[[UK]Shakespeare Taming of the Shrew II i: bap.: The gain I seek is quiet in the match. gre.: No doubt but he hath got a quiet catch].
[UK]Cleland Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1985) 215: Your surprize that one of my blood and relish of life, should count a gallant of threescore such a catch.
[UK]‘Thomas Brown’ Fudge Family in England 2: Sole encumbrance, Miss Fudge to be taken therewith. / Think, my boy, for a Curate how glorious a catch!
[UK]Comic Almanack Oct. 333: Angelina Ampletin was one of the prettiest girls in Pimlico, and, if there was any truth in rumour, very far from one of the worst catches.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 3: He will [...] have ten thousand a year [...] He will be a catch for some one.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 31: You wouldn’t believe Sal Grogan, that poor, distorted wretch, / Was ever a fine young woman, and reckoned a decent catch.
‘A Plain Woman’ Poor Nellie I 36: He was not much of a catch.
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 1 Jan. 3/2: ‘Ma’ thought him a catch.
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 35: Sam Cardew, with his bandages and his grunts and groans, was no great catch after all.
[US]D.H. Clarke In the Reign of Rothstein 220: All the girls had their best smiles oiled up for use on Sherwood. He was another good catch.
[US](con. 1800s) ‘The Bell Witch of Tennessee and Mississippi’ in A.P. Hudson Humor of the Old Deep South 439: He was a catch for any girl.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 48: He was also a power in the Foot. He was a desirable and flattering catch.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 74: Lee [...] looked forward to meeting his stepfather; she thought he might be a catch.
[Aus]‘Geoffrey Tolhurst’ Flat 4 King’s Cross (1966) 12: All the girls said he was a good catch, and I was crazy not to marry him.
[UK]C. Stead Cotters’ England (1980) 73: He’s not much of a catch. He’s going bald and [...] he’s got bad feet too.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 128: Cuthbert is frightfully rich and would be quite a catch for any girl, even if he is a chinless wonder.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 123: Dana thinks Timothy is a ‘catch’.
[UK]Observer Rev. 30 Jan. 2: As a short William Hague lookalike, I wasn’t much of a catch.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 659: Frankly he wasn’t top catch. Not like pike. More like roach or perch if you follow.

2. (UK Und.) a thief’s booty, a stolen item.

[UK]Comic Almanack Sept. 63: We’d quite a catch in Ha’penny Hatch, / And never paid a farden.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 244: Well, as it was her catch, I thought as I’d consult along of her whether we should take the £200.

3. anything desirable.

[UK]Sporting Times 4 Mar. 1/5: Yes, yes; but where’s the ‘catch’ in it; there’s nobody to bet with up here.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘The Lure of the Lucre’ Sporting Times 1 Aug. 1/4: She says it’s no catch waitin’ ’arf a ’undred years for me / When the old man’s ripe for pluckin’ off the matrimonial tree.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith in the City (1993) 147: This bank business is far from being much of a catch.

4. (US black) a woman, esp. a woman recruited into prostitution; thus catching, seducing a woman into prostitution.

[US]C. Major Juba to Jive.

5. (US black) the number of clients a prostitute has serviced within a given time.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].