Part of speech: noun
Origin: Latin, 15th century
A large waterfall; a sudden rush of water; a downpour.
A medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.
Examples of Cataract in a sentence
"We were pounded by a cataract of rain so intense we couldn’t see out the window."
"The world’s largest waterfall, the Denmark Strait cataract, is actually underwater, carrying cold water nearly two miles to the bottom of the ocean."
Popularity Over Time
“Cataract” comes from the Latin “cataracta,” meaning both “waterfall” and “floodgate,” as well as “portcullis.”
Did you Know?
The first use of “cataract” did not describe water, but rather a descending divider — whether a gate, such as a portcullis or floodgate, or a waterfall. This preceded the modern use of “cataract” as a condition affecting vision, which appeared in the mid-16th century. The image of a descending gate was effective in conveying the development of a cataract on the lens of an eye, which increasingly divides a person from a clear picture of what is in front of them. However, natural cataracts also obscure vision by dropping hundreds or thousands of gallons of water per second.