grasp

1 of 2

verb

grasped; grasping; grasps

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
graspable adjective
grasper noun

grasp

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: handle
b
2
: hold, control
kept a firm grasp on the rope
3
a
: 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
Phrases
grasp at straws
: to reach for or try anything in desperation
grasp the nettle
: to act boldly
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

Example Sentences

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
At first blush, there’s plenty about Brian Head Resort that’s counter-intuitive ... and lots to make a person pause to fully grasp. The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Nov. 2022 Its pointillistic portrait of the world of Earn, Glover’s character, could, at times, give us little onto which to grasp. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 7 Nov. 2022 Softness would mean a robot hand could envelop something, like a blob that wraps around an item, creating many points of contact—a simpler way to grasp than the precise movements of most robotic arms and pincers. Jackie Snow, WSJ, 28 Oct. 2022 This cutie walked away with a Good Housekeeping Institute Toy Award because the 12 pegs were easy for little hands to grasp. Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping, 14 Oct. 2022 Because of that, the coping mechanisms therapists suggest can feel too abstract for kids to grasp. Amy Schwabe, Journal Sentinel, 20 Sep. 2022 Bowie was too big, and too magnificent, for any of us to fully grasp, and his loss still hurts. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 16 Sep. 2022 And these collective activity patterns are too complicated for humans to grasp without the aid of mathematical tools. WIRED, 3 Oct. 2022 Why is this so hard for novice entrepreneurs to grasp? Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Oct. 2022
Noun
Next week, job seekers will start to get a much better grasp on what many employers are willing to pay – and so will a company’s existing employees. Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, 28 Oct. 2022 However, this year’s group seems to have a better grasp of team identity. Jenna Ortiz, The Arizona Republic, 13 Oct. 2022 Navy support of marine science led to an expansive understanding of the ocean as a physical medium—a better grasp of currents, marine sound transmission and deep-sea geology. Naomi Oreskes, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2022 Watch the videos on getting started, creating that first effect, and visual scripting for a better grasp on the overall process. Reece Rogers, WIRED, 18 Sep. 2022 Enlarge / Dyson is trying to get a grasp on home robotics. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 25 May 2022 Miller still has to round out the rest of his coaching staff and get a better grasp of where his roster's at because that will impact what Xavier needs to focus on in the transfer portal. Adam Baum, The Enquirer, 7 Apr. 2022 Tunity believes its technology gives it a better grasp on such tabulation. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 2 Mar. 2022 These monsters benefit not just from a redesign but also coming from later in the design cycle when the team had a better grasp of elements like balance and resistance. Rob Wieland, Forbes, 19 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English graspen

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near grasp

Cite this Entry

“Grasp.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grasp. Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

grasp 1 of 2

verb

1
: to make the motion of seizing : clutch
grasp at straws
2
: to clasp or embrace with or as if with the fingers or arms
3
: to lay hold of with the mind : comprehend
failed to grasp its importance
graspable adjective
grasper noun

grasp

2 of 2

noun

1
2
: control entry 2 sense 1, hold
land in the grasp of a tyrant
3
a
: the reach of the arms
the tree limb was beyond my grasp
b
: the power of seizing and holding
success lies within their grasp
4

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