grasp·​ing ˈgra-spiŋ How to pronounce grasping (audio)
: used, designed, or adapted to grasp
When the eggs hatch, the first-stage grub … is a minute but highly active larva with well-developed grasping legs.John Alcock
His choice of surgical instruments includes everything from grasping forceps and trimmers to motorized shavers and drills.Arnold Schechter
: desiring material possessions urgently and excessively and often to the point of ruthlessness
Her grasping children fought over her property when she died.
graspingly adverb
graspingness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for grasping

covetous, greedy, acquisitive, grasping, avaricious mean having or showing a strong desire for especially material possessions.

covetous implies inordinate desire often for another's possessions.

covetous of his brother's country estate

greedy stresses lack of restraint and often of discrimination in desire.

greedy for status symbols

acquisitive implies both eagerness to possess and ability to acquire and keep.

an eagerly acquisitive mind

grasping adds to covetous and greedy an implication of selfishness and often suggests unfair or ruthless means.

a hard grasping businesswoman who cheated her associates

avaricious implies obsessive acquisitiveness especially of money and strongly suggests stinginess.

an avaricious miser

Examples of grasping in a Sentence

Her grasping children fought over her property when she died. a grasping person who would rather buy a car he didn't need than give a dime to charity
Recent Examples on the Web When their father appears to change his mind — swooping into the city to find human prey, slicing them open with a curved dagger and removing their hearts to be liquified in a blender and drunk as a blood smoothie — the five grasping siblings descend on the house, all resentful entitlement. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Aug. 2023 For example, Wandelt, Bjånes and their colleagues found that a part of the parietal lobe called the supramarginal gyrus (SMG), which is typically associated with grasping objects, is also strongly activated during speech. Marla Broadfoot, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'grasping.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see grasp entry 1

First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of grasping was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near grasping

Cite this Entry

“Grasping.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


grasp·​ing ˈgras-piŋ How to pronounce grasping (audio)
graspingly adverb
graspingness noun

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