Definition of latch on to in English:

latch on to

phrasal verb

informal
  • 1Attach oneself to (someone) as a constant and usually unwelcome companion.

    ‘he spent the whole evening trying to latch on to my friends’
    • ‘Eyre, 38, latched on to the boy while he was still living at home, plying him with drink and drugs, alienating him from his family and brainwashing him into believing that what he was going through was somehow normal.’
    • ‘He latches on to Dan one evening, all but inviting himself to the man's home for dinner.’
    • ‘As a further sub-plot, we have John meeting an Asian woman who latches on to him and takes photographs constantly - she turns out to be an art student, and takes John clubbing, along with her student pals.’
    • ‘She gathers her things and leaves the hospital, followed by the Doctor, who in his confused state latches on to someone he recognizes.’
    affiliate with, associate with, align with, ally with, unite with, combine with, integrate into, join to
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    1. 1.1 Take up (an idea or trend) enthusiastically.
      ‘the newspapers latched on to the idea of healthy eating’
      • ‘The Scottish Executive has latched on to the idea that a national day is a handy way to market Scotland abroad.’
      • ‘People seem to be latching on to the idea that if they own a piece of music in one format, they have a right to duplicate it in another.’
      • ‘By making the states' rights argument, the Republicans had finally latched on to an idea that resonated with conservatives in the South.’
      • ‘But this figure is expected to rise as more affluent mainland tourists latch on to the idea of health tourism.’
      • ‘England, slowly latching on to the idea that their cricketers are better playing than not playing, are letting all members of their triumphant side take part in today's round of matches’
      • ‘It won't take food and drinks companies long to all latch on to the fact that Manchester sells.’
      • ‘Frustrated by the lack of quick progress on the ground and fading political support at home, Washington is now latching on to the idea that a quick transfer of power to local troops and politicians would make things better.’
      • ‘At a time when there was little in the way of invention, everybody latched on to the only big idea in town.’
      • ‘While latching on to the up-country trend, the industry here found itself wrong-footed and woefully short of male dancing talents.’
      • ‘Paul and friends, while supping pints, latched on to the far-fetched idea of representing their country at a sport.’
    2. 1.2British (of a football or rugby player) take advantage of (another player's move) when attacking.
      ‘Nevin latched on to a miscued header to smash home the winning goal’
      • ‘Just before half-time Arthur Tegemeier pulled a goal back for New Earswick and five minutes into the second half the same player equalised after latching on to a through ball.’
      • ‘Ludovic Giuly beats John Terry for pace and tries to latch on to a long ball played from the back.’
      • ‘Armstrong completed his hat-trick in fine style after the interval, latching on to a long ball from Sam Russell and coolly lofting it over the stranded Flahavan to round off an impressive performance from David Hodgson's men.’
      • ‘The equaliser followed a great passing move, Jonny Greenwood latching on to a through ball from midfield and firing home.’
      • ‘A long ball launched in the 89th minute was latched on to by Carl Fox and he showed the home forwards how it's done.’
      • ‘Michael Owen tries to latch on to a dinked Paul Scholes pass over the top.’
      • ‘His long punt was latched on to by Adam Webster and he lobbed Andy Britton.’
      • ‘The keeper immediately launched an attack and with the Silsden defence stretched Meechan, looking marginally offside, latched on to a through ball and calmly slid it home.’
      • ‘No sooner had I typed that last bit than Marc Overmars threaded a lovely ball through the Portugal defence for Ruud to latch on to.’
      • ‘Lamb did well to parry but the ball fell for the Unibond Premiership's leading scorer Paul Gedman to latch on to the loose ball and score from six yards.’
    3. 1.3 (of one substance) cohere with (another)
      ‘the DNA chain latches on to its counterpart’
      • ‘So what they did was condense the information into an encrypted message so tiny that it could latch on to only one wavelength of sound.’
      • ‘Each of these groups of molecules contains a unique fatty acid group and a peptidic head group that latches on to iron ions.’
      • ‘Since we can't get closer than a quarter mile, we're gonna have to be shuttled in somehow and I'm not gonna take any chances that one of those mines latch on to either a sled or the mini-sub.’
      • ‘Before then, as soon as a positively charged nucleus tried to latch on to a negatively charged electron, the electron would have been knocked away by an energetic photon.’
      • ‘The Finnish researchers had made these antibody fragments to specifically latch on to only one mirror-image form, or enantiomer, of a test molecule.’
      • ‘It turns out that the protein, gp 120, is extremely flexible and difficult for antibodies to latch on to.’
      • ‘Some contain a strip of adhesive amino acids that latch on to their cognate sequences like Velcro.’
      • ‘By means of simple chemical programming, it's able to latch on to a cell wall.’
      • ‘These are specialized molecules that can latch on to antigens and help the rest of the immune system eliminate the foreign particle.’
  • 2Understand the meaning of (something)

    with clause ‘she'll soon latch on to what is happening’
    • ‘But hoaxers soon latched on to his story and have been using his name or variations of it ever since to con people into sending them their details.’
    • ‘I suspect that soon the PC crowd will latch on to this change and take action to get words such as ‘fatso’ and ‘blimpie’ labeled as hate speech.’
    • ‘Anyone who works or has worked in an office environment will latch on to at least some of what the programme is all about.’
    • ‘Pupils soon latch on to this, and the spiral of decline suddenly becomes much steeper.’
    • ‘And why are they so interested in latching on to these differences?’
    comprehend, apprehend, grasp, see, take in, perceive, discern, make out, puzzle out, recognize, keep up with, master, get to know, follow, fathom, get to the bottom of, penetrate, divine, interpret, unravel, decipher, see the light about, envisage
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