What does 'gotcha' mean?

by sabitha 2012-06-06 12:26:23

What does 'gotcha' mean?

* Gotcha actually has several meanings. All of them can be derived from the phrase of which this is a phonetic spelling, namely "[I have] got you".

* Literally, from the sense of got = "caught, obtained", it means "I've caught you". As in, you were falling, and I caught you, or you were running, and I grabbed you.

* It's a short step from the benign type of caught to the red-handed type of caught. Thus, gotcha is often used when you witness someone doing something naughty.

* Again, it's a short step from I-caught-you-doing-something-you-oughtn't to Surprise! I tricked you! This sense of gotcha is used when someone falls for a practical joke, for example.

* A somewhat-natural progression from the "I tricked you" meaning is gotcha used as a noun: this is a feature of a system (e.g. a programming language) which trips you up or catches you off-guard.

* And finally, from the figurative sense of got = "understood", gotcha can be used to mean "Aha, I see now" or "I understand".

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