grapple

noun
grap·​ple | \ ˈgra-pəl How to pronounce grapple (audio) \

Definition of grapple

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the act or an instance of grappling
b : a hand-to-hand struggle locked in a desperate grapple with his foe
c : a contest for superiority or mastery their grapple with tyranny
2 : an instrument for grabbing or gripping something: such as
a : a bucket (as on an excavating machine) having hinged jaws

grapple

verb
grappled; grappling\ ˈgra-​p(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce grappling (audio) \

Definition of grapple (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from grapple

Verb

grappler \ ˈgra-​p(ə-​)lər How to pronounce grappler (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for grapple

Synonyms: Noun

clasp, clench, grasp, grip, handgrip, handhold, hold

Synonyms: Verb

rassle, scuffle, tussle, wrestle

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of grapple in a Sentence

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On the flatbed: a shiny orange Kubota BX25D-1 tractor with all the fixings: mower deck, backhoe, front-end loader, grapple, brush hog. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Year of the Tractor," 7 May 2016 Surveillance video shows the gun pointed at the clerk's head as the two grapple. Fox News, "Video shows robber, deli clerk grappling over gun," 18 Sep. 2018 His quick moves and heavy grapples look like an interesting alternative to the likes of classic melee character Captain Falcon. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Smash Bros. Ultimate confirms final features—and new fighters through 2020," 1 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, technology firms are attacking all parts of the property transaction process with hooks and grapples to the blockchain. Joanne Cleaver, chicagotribune.com, "Could blockchain technology transform homebuying in Cook County — and beyond?," 9 July 2018 Though these attributions were already widely assumed, the White House's public acknowledgement is a key step as both the government and private sector grapple with how to respond. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "The Worst Cybersecurity Breaches of 2018 So Far," 9 July 2018 And that’s something that both this play and Dry Powder grapple with. Adam Green, Vogue, "In Kings, Sarah Burgess Tackles the Corrosive Power of Money on the Government," 21 Mar. 2018 In the sequel as in the original movie, the Parr family grapple with high-tech threats while surrounded by midcentury interior design and architecture. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Incredibles 2 Addresses the State of the Union," 19 June 2018 Humans colonizing the planet Pax grapple with the discovery that indigenous plant life is intelligent and may view them as a threat. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "85 books for summer reading," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In a courtroom packed with environmental activists, federal judges grappled Tuesday with whether climate change violates the constitutional rights of young people who have sued the U.S. government over the use of fossil fuels. CBS News, "Does climate change violate children's right to life, liberty and property? A U.S. court may decide," 5 June 2019 As Texas begins to grapple with how to stop mass shootings — particularly in schools — politicians are struggling to come up with solutions that will curb violence while fitting into the state’s gun culture and commitment to the Second Amendment. Jane Coaston, Vox, "The Santa Fe school shooter used his father’s guns. Could his father be punished?," 25 May 2018 In the region’s House races, Democratic campaigns have historically grappled with poor Latino voter turnout, a trend throughout the state, but one that has an outsized impact in the Central Valley. Jazmine Ulloa, latimes.com, "Why these California Republicans keep winning in Democratic-leaning districts," 22 May 2018 Lack of enthusiasm for women’s sports is something the nation’s been grappling with more openly in light of the newest wave of women’s movements. Kathryn Lundstrom, SI.com, "The Glitz and Glamour of WNBA Draft Inspires Young Girls," 13 Apr. 2018 Gucci in recent months has grappled with complaints from the black community in the U.S. over a sweater people found offensive. Anita Snow, The Seattle Times, "Sikhs say Nordstrom apologized for turban, waiting for Gucci," 19 May 2019 The service must also grapple with the fact that, nearly 80 years later, war at sea is more deadly than ever before, with long range drones equipped with missiles, satellite surveillance, and supersonic anti-ship missiles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Robotic Ship Could Become a Marine's Lifeline," 9 May 2019 If the high court allows the case to move forward, then lower courts will grapple with the substance of the antitrust dispute. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "How Apple hopes to stop a customer lawsuit over its App Store monopoly," 27 Nov. 2018 Scorpion masquerades as self-examination, which only heightens its overwrought sentimentality: Side A grapples with ego, legacy, and fame, while Side B shifts to downtempo. Jason Parham, WIRED, "With Scorpion, #DrakeSZN Is Back—as Overwrought as Ever," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grapple.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of grapple

Noun

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for grapple

Noun and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about grapple

Statistics for grapple

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grapple

The first known use of grapple was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for grapple

grapple

verb

English Language Learners Definition of grapple

: to hold and fight with another person
: to try to solve a problem : to deal with a problem

grapple

verb
grappled; grappling

Kids Definition of grapple

1 : to seize or hold with an instrument (as a hook)
2 : to seize and struggle with another Wrestlers grappled in the ring.
3 : to deal with Leaders are grappling with the problem.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on grapple

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grapple

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grapple

Spanish Central: Translation of grapple

Nglish: Translation of grapple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grapple for Arabic Speakers

Comments on grapple

What made you want to look up grapple? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!