grap·ple | \ˈgra-pəl \

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

b : grappling hook


grappled; grappling\ˈgra-p(ə-)liŋ \

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

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Other Words from grapple


grappler \ˈgra-p(ə-)lər \ noun

Examples of grapple in a Sentence


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


two sumo wrestlers grappling like a pair of mammoth bears a crane grappled the sunken boat and hoisted it above water
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Meanwhile, technology firms are attacking all parts of the property transaction process with hooks and grapples to the blockchain. Joanne Cleaver,, "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 Walmart’s more generous stance comes as suppliers like General Mills Inc. and Hershey Co. grapple with a transportation shortage and new driving regulations that have sent shipping costs spiraling., "Walmart Relaxes Deadlines for Some Deliveries Amid Driver Crunch," 11 Apr. 2018 This is the essence of the maddening grapple between Heidl and Kehlmann. William Giraldi,, "Richard Flanagan's 'First Person': A ghostwriter who fights lies with lies," 6 Apr. 2018 Every divorcing couple grapples with sadness, anxiety, worry, and stress—and that includes celebrities as well. Blake Bakkila,, "9 Times Celebrities Got Candid About Divorce," 30 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Over the three-day conference, engineers, business buffs, urban planners, government officials, and transportation researchers grappled with how to tell the public that its wonder drug of a transportation solution will have its limitations. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Home From the Honeymoon, the Self-Driving Car Industry Faces Reality," 13 July 2018 Female artists, and particularly Latinas, must also grapple with issues of overly sexualized representation. Jessica Lipsky, Billboard, "Latin Women Take The Reins: Insights From the Latin Alternative Music Conference," 13 July 2018 Since the revelations, Facebook has grappled with regulatory scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic. Adam Satariano And Sheera Frenkel,, "Facebook is fined by British agency over Cambridge Analytica data leak," 11 July 2018 Newsletter Sign-up Uber grappled with nearly a year of scandal and legal headaches, propelled by Ms. Fowler’s allegations. Greg Bensinger, WSJ, "Uber’s HR Chief Leaves After Probe Into Handling of Discrimination Claims," 11 July 2018 Since the revelations, Facebook has grappled with regulatory scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic. Adam Satariano, New York Times, "Facebook Is Fined in Britain Over Cambridge Analytica Data Leak," 10 July 2018 In his memoir Inward Empire, Christian Donlan grapples with the effects of MS. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "This Month in Books: ‘What Used To Be Me Before the World Buried It’," 10 July 2018 The United States is on the verge of losing more than half of its low-carbon energy as the fight against climate change reaches a critical point — a reality the country hasn’t fully grappled with. Joshua Emerson Smith,, "Fearing climate change, experts in San Diego warn U.S. nuclear industry faces collapse," 7 July 2018 Officials have grappled with this barrier for years, with some working toward a high-speed rail line. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio-Austin MPOs working to ready I-35 for population boom," 5 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.

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First Known Use of grapple


1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for grapple


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


see grapple entry 1

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Statistics for grapple

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Time Traveler for grapple

The first known use of grapple was in 1530

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More Definitions for grapple



English Language Learners Definition of grapple

: to hold and fight with another person

: to try to solve a problem : to deal with a problem


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.

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