\ ˈgrasp How to pronounce grasp (audio) \
grasped; grasping; grasps

Definition of grasp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make the motion of seizing : clutch grasping for support

transitive verb

1 : to take or seize eagerly grasp the opportunity for advancement
2 : to clasp or embrace especially with the fingers or arms grasped the pen and began writing
3 : to lay hold of with the mind : comprehend failed to grasp the danger of the situation
grasp at straws
: to reach for or try anything in desperation
grasp the nettle
: to act boldly



Definition of grasp (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : handle
b : embrace
2 : hold, control kept a firm grasp on the rope
3a : the reach of the arms The books on the top shelf were beyond my grasp.
b : the power of seizing and holding or attaining success lay within their grasp
4 : mental hold or comprehension especially when broad a remarkable grasp of the subject

Other Words from grasp


graspable \ ˈgra-​spə-​bəl How to pronounce grasp (audio) \ adjective
grasper noun

Synonyms for grasp

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for grasp


take, seize, grasp, clutch, snatch, grab mean to get hold of by or as if by catching up with the hand. take is a general term applicable to any manner of getting something into one's possession or control. take some salad from the bowl seize implies a sudden and forcible movement in getting hold of something tangible or an apprehending of something fleeting or elusive when intangible. seized the suspect grasp stresses a laying hold so as to have firmly in possession. grasp the handle and pull clutch suggests avidity or anxiety in seizing or grasping and may imply less success in holding. clutching her purse snatch suggests more suddenness or quickness but less force than seize. snatched a doughnut and ran grab implies more roughness or rudeness than snatch. grabbed roughly by the arm

Examples of grasp in a Sentence

Verb I grasped the end of the rope and pulled as hard as I could. I grasped the rope by its end. His arthritis is so bad he can barely grasp a pencil. Noun The author shows a weak grasp of military strategy. The books on the top shelf are just beyond my grasp. She moved the toy to within the baby's grasp. She felt the solution was within her grasp.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trump seems to not grasp that difference -- or just doesn't care. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 4 Jan. 2022 To fully grasp the impact of Friday’s semifinal games in the College Football Playoff, imagine a big slab of peanut butter hitting the kitchen floor. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Jan. 2022 Work like this is crucial in helping the public grasp the urgency of the climate crisis. Time, 28 Dec. 2021 Did the artist who carved the cross also take liberties, which only informed Nahuas would grasp? Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2021 Enoch is excellent as the sole teammate given some dimension here, who’s mature enough to see a bigger picture than narrowly self-interested Martin can grasp. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 21 Dec. 2021 One of the services UnaBiz is investing in is its UnaConnect data platform, a service that translates data gathered by IoT sensors—in a factory, for example—into information that clients can quickly grasp, Chiu explains. Ralph Jennings, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 The details can wait until the child can better grasp the implications. Washington Post, 28 June 2021 At Pompeii, the soft robotic hands will need to grasp, move and orient fragments of varying sizes and weights with extreme care—and gather information about them in the process. Jen Pinkowski, Scientific American, 6 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although outreach providers have a good grasp of the downtown area, the city and its partners need to also focus on shelters and hubs throughout the city. Elena Bruess, San Antonio Express-News, 24 Dec. 2021 Some attorneys did not have a firm grasp on juvenile law and sometimes spent little time with clients before representing them in court. Washington Post, 24 Dec. 2021 During one of the most volatile periods in recent memory, private and public-sector economists have a less firm grasp of what the labor market is doing. Andrew Barnett, WSJ, 13 Dec. 2021 Aside from the 10-0 run in the fourth by the Rockets, the Pistons had a firm grasp on this one throughout the second half. Rahat Huq, Chron, 11 Nov. 2021 While that is no longer the case, Sawdaye said the Diamondbacks do not yet have a firm grasp of what their payroll will look like this year. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 10 Nov. 2021 Sixty-four percent of directors said ESG is linked to company strategy, but just 25% believe their company has a firm grasp of the risks. Aman Kidwai, Fortune, 4 Nov. 2021 Cardinal Newman has a pretty good grasp on the third spot in the region; the Crusaders will almost certainly make the playoffs and have a good chance to host its first-round game. Adam Lichtenstein,, 3 Nov. 2021 And New York has been focussed on this issue for a really long time, and has a grasp of its nuances. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 5 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grasp.' 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 grasp


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for grasp

Verb and Noun

Middle English graspen

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Time Traveler for grasp

Time Traveler

The first known use of grasp was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near grasp



grasp at

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Statistics for grasp

Last Updated

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Grasp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for grasp



English Language Learners Definition of grasp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to take and hold (something) with your fingers, hands, etc.
: to understand (something that is complicated or difficult)



English Language Learners Definition of grasp (Entry 2 of 2)

: a usually strong hold
: an understanding of something
: the distance that can be reached by your arms and hands : reach


\ ˈgrasp How to pronounce grasp (audio) \
grasped; grasping

Kids Definition of grasp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to seize and hold with or as if with the hand grasp a bat You must grasp the opportunity.
2 : to make the motion of seizing She grasped at branches as she fell.
3 : understand sense 1 He quickly grasped the idea.



Kids Definition of grasp (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a grip of the hand Keep a firm grasp on the rope.
2 : control entry 2 sense 1, hold The land was in the grasp of a tyrant.
3 : the power of seizing and holding : reach He put the tools beyond the child's grasp.
4 : understanding entry 1 sense 1 She has a good grasp of math.

More from Merriam-Webster on grasp

Nglish: Translation of grasp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grasp for Arabic Speakers


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