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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
In Ukraine’s capital, statues are covered, protected and sometimes simply removed as a nation in the midst of war grapples with its history and identity. Ed Ram, Washington Post, 3 July 2024 Murthy, the nation’s top doctor, issued the advisory Tuesday as the U.S. grapples with growing numbers of deaths and injuries involving firearms. Nina Moske, Orlando Sentinel, 27 June 2024
France has been grappling with high tensions in the run-up to this Sunday’s elections. Niamh Kennedy, CNN, 5 July 2024 Since last summer, many musicians have grappled with the dangerous trend of invasive fan incidents, which have included many having to dodge objects being thrown at them. Ilana Kaplan, Peoplemag, 3 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for grapple 

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 12 Jul. 2024.

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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