1 of 2


grap·​ple ˈgra-pəl How to pronounce grapple (audio)
: the act or an instance of grappling
: a hand-to-hand struggle
locked in a desperate grapple with his foe
: a contest for superiority or mastery
their grapple with tyranny
: an instrument for grabbing or gripping something: such as
: a bucket (as on an excavating machine) having hinged jaws


2 of 2


grappled; grappling ˈgra-p(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce grapple (audio)

transitive verb

: to seize with or as if with a grapple (see grapple entry 1 sense 2)
: to grasp with the hands : wrestle
: to bind closely

intransitive verb

: to make a ship fast with a grappling hook
: to begin to understand or deal with something in a direct or effective way
Officials grappled with an increase in violent crimes.
: to use a grapple
grappler noun

Example Sentences

Noun was simply unable to break my opponent's viselike grapple and lost the wrestling match after a grapple with his conscience, he confessed to having an affair Verb two sumo wrestlers grappling like a pair of mammoth bears a crane grappled the sunken boat and hoisted it above water
Recent Examples on the Web
Zambia’s central bank hiked its key lending rate to 9.5% from 9.25% as Africa’s second-top copper and cobalt producer grapples with spiraling inflation. Nicholas Bariyo, WSJ, 17 May 2023 As New York grapples with a surge in migrant arrivals, Orangetown, in Rockland County, was granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday to keep a hotel in the town from accepting 30 migrant men that the New York mayor’s office planned to send Wednesday, Town Supervisor Teresa Kenny announced. Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 10 May 2023 As the community grapples, those impacted begin to take on medical and funeral expenses. Arcelia Martin, Dallas News, 8 May 2023 Twelve different patch notes were added to the list after the fact, including nerfs to orb generation from certain mods and nerfs to a certain kind of grapple playstyle. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 The story primarily takes place in the present day as a grown-up Clare (played by Hahn) grapples with the trauma of having lost her mother, while Wever’s character exists in flashbacks to the 1990s when Clare was in her 20s and played by Sarah Pidgeon. Hunter Ingram, Variety, 8 Apr. 2023 Brandon Johnson, a union organizer and former teacher, was elected Chicago mayor on Tuesday, a major victory for the party's progressive wing as the nation's third-largest city grapples with high crime and financial challenges. CBS News, 4 Apr. 2023 The Bruins captain is left to ponder retirement as his team, which won an N.H.L.-record 65 games in the regular season, grapples with its first-round playoff exit. David Waldstein, New York Times, 1 May 2023 The documentary, out now on Prime Video, grapples directly with Blume’s life and impact. Michael Stillwell, Town & Country, 24 Apr. 2023
Amid uprisings for racial justice in the summer of 2020, the organization grappled with the racist legacy of its founder, John Muir, and the early conservation movement’s embrace of white supremacy. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 17 May 2023 On Slack and in boardrooms, institutions grappled with the inequality within. Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 In March, parts of Argentina grappled with temperatures up to 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal. Laura Paddison, CNN, 17 May 2023 At the same time, many are also grappling with how to operate more sustainably. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 May 2023 As a result, the payments resemble what investigators frequently find in examining criminal enterprises: conspirators forever grappling with the challenge of concealing where the money is coming from, how much of it there is, and who is getting it. The Editors, National Review, 17 May 2023 In the meantime, employees of Pappas' Hobby restaurants were grappling with a choice — stay with the company and be relocated to another restaurant, or stay and take a new job with Areas SAU at the airport. Brittanie Shey, Chron, 16 May 2023 The majority of countries that have shown interest in using the yuan are grappling with their own economic distress, like Argentina, or looking to trade with Russia despite sanctions, like Brazil. David Feliba, Washington Post, 16 May 2023 Following the news Friday that the Writers Guild of America had denied a waiver request that would allow the Tony Awards to be televised on June 11, New York’s theater communities are grappling with the implications of the decision for industry solidarity amid the strike. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'grapple.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English grappel grappling hook, from Old French *grappelle, diminutive of grape hook — more at grape

First Known Use


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of grapple was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near grapple

Cite this Entry

“Grapple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
grap·​ple ˈgrap-əl How to pronounce grapple (audio)
: the act of grappling : grip, hold


2 of 2 verb
grappled; grappling ˈgrap-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce grapple (audio)
: to seize or hold with or as if with a hooked instrument
: to seize and struggle with one another
: to attempt to deal
grappled with a problem
grappler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on grapple

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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