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


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

Other Words from grapple


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

Synonyms for grapple

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Latvia will implement a lockdown from Thursday until at least Nov. 15, authorities said, as the country and its broader region grapple with low vaccination rates and a surge in delta cases. Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2021 Biden's meeting with Israeli prime minister delayed Mr. Biden's bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been delayed, the White House said, as the president and his administration grapple with the explosions in Kabul. Melissa Quinn, Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 27 Aug. 2021 Greece, Ireland, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other destinations were added to the CDC's Level 4 advisory list earlier this month as countries around the globe grapple with the highly contagious delta variant. Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY, 11 Aug. 2021 The Elvira's Movie Macabre host credits the Me Too movement with helping her grapple with the assault decades later. Glenn Garner,, 23 Sep. 2021 As lawmakers in Washington grapple with legislation to alter the upward trajectory of prescription drug prices, a key talking point is likely to be found in a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office. Ed Silverman, STAT, 20 Sep. 2021 Trust no one, grapple for the upper hand, maximize the margins. Stephen Lurie, The Atlantic, 26 Aug. 2021 Those who fled the Taliban’s first reign grapple with the constant threat of deportation, police harassment, and discrimination. Sabrina Toppa, Time, 18 Aug. 2021 At times listening to Osaka grapple with her doubts and insecurities can be uncomfortable and intrusive, but that’s revealing in its own way. Brian Lowry, CNN, 16 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As many countries continue to grapple with the problem of poor vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy, preventive treatments, such as nasal sprays, could become important in battling the pandemic. Aayushi Pratap, Forbes, 8 Nov. 2021 Companies continue to grapple with a serious worker shortage. Matt Egan, CNN, 12 Oct. 2021 Health care leaders have a responsibility to reinforce resilience and protect mental wellness as health care workers continue to grapple with the complexities of treating Covid-19. Anne Marie Benedicto, STAT, 10 Oct. 2021 Still, the film and TV industry continues to grapple with high-profile incidents and has seen the number of fatalities increase over the last decade, federal records show. Matt Stiles, Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2021 This year the prize once again holds particular significance as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, and the importance of medical research is of especially high interest. Saphora Smith, NBC News, 4 Oct. 2021 No recent fight in the halls of Congress has quite carried the same stakes as this one, coming at a time when Washington continues to grapple with rising coronavirus infections and the deadly consequences of a fast-warming planet. Tony Romm, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Sep. 2021 The mix of extremes seen on the red carpet foreshadowed a night of mixed emotions inside the award ceremony—and beyond, as the country continues to grapple with feeling both loss and hope simultaneously. Anna Haines, Forbes, 20 Sep. 2021 As Florida continues to grapple with COVID-19, schools are keeping thousands of students home on a daily basis to avoid potential outbreaks even though most of those kids end up testing negative for the disease. Wells Dusenbury,, 15 Sep. 2021

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

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for grapple

Time Traveler

The first known use of grapple was in 1530

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Dictionary Entries Near grapple

grappier cement


grapple dredge

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Statistics for grapple

Last Updated

23 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Grapple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on grapple

Nglish: Translation of grapple for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grapple for Arabic Speakers


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