\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from grasp


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

Synonyms for grasp

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even after the revelations of mass surveillance of phone records by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, U.S. surveillance capabilities and secretive legislation around them remain so complex that few grasp their full effect. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Sep. 2021 Employers who don’t grasp this fully this face a huge risk: losing the war for talent. Elaine Pofeldt, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Instead, a frugal patriarchy establishes itself in such cases, a long line of sedentary ancestors who grasp only, and ask for nothing. Alexander Kluge, Harper's Magazine, 17 Aug. 2021 Cat’s-claw vine (Dolichandra unguis-cati) has three-pronged clawlike climbing appendages that grasp onto plants or surfaces. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 16 Aug. 2021 The couple didn’t know Lanz personally and still don’t fully grasp the reasoning behind his fixation on them. Washington Post, 7 Aug. 2021 As for the Power Broker, well, this is the controversial choice that some MCU fans can’t quite grasp. Chris Smith, BGR, 28 Apr. 2021 Yet when Pelosi called Cheney the morning after the vote to establish the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol, both seemed to instantly grasp the historical gravity of the moment. Lisa Mascaro, ajc, 24 July 2021 Yet when Pelosi called Cheney the morning after the vote to establish the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol, both seemed to instantly grasp the historical gravity of the moment. Lisa Mascaro,, 23 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Standing out among the country’s great chefs requires not only a firm grasp of culinary technique but also the ability to clearly understand the many preferences of today’s restaurant-going public. Roger Sands, Forbes, 15 Sep. 2021 Her appreciation for Leclerc’s feats is anchored in a first-hand grasp of its risk-reward minuet. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 10 Sep. 2021 The writings of Herman Melville should be taught in schools, both for their grasp of human fallenness and his peerless exposition of the human experience. Sarah Schutte, National Review, 6 Sep. 2021 The early enrollee is still honing his skills and has plenty to work on, but his gamesmanship and grasp of the offense has been a pleasant development for the Tigers’ quarterback room. Tom Green |, al, 26 Aug. 2021 Jones also forced a fumble against running back Salvon Ahmed, making a potent rip on the ball from Ahmed’s grasp. David Furones,, 25 Aug. 2021 With Kandahar and Herat, a dozen provincial capitals are now in the group’s grasp. Matt Sedensky, Anchorage Daily News, 18 Aug. 2021 As Indian democracy crumbles day upon day under the grasp of Narendra Modi, social media platforms have functioned in lieu of a free press. Akanksha Singh, Wired, 18 Aug. 2021 As the girls grow older, the differences between their families become more apparent, and Sylvie’s initial romantic impression of the Gallard household is tempered by a grasp of its strict Catholic faith. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 17 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About grasp

Time Traveler for grasp

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near grasp



grasp at

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for grasp

Last Updated

17 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Grasp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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