\ 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 But that message could be increasingly hard to grasp for millions of households facing steep price tags for groceries, used cars or gas right now. Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2021 If the Gateway Arch Park’s influence is hard to quantify separately from other big investments in the city, its physical and visual impact is easy to grasp. Steven Litt, cleveland, 15 Aug. 2021 The parts remained stubbornly separate, and there was no way to grasp the meaning of the whole. Mary L. Trump, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Here’s one of the great mysteries of education; people who otherwise fully grasp the laws of supply and demand are somehow certain these laws do not apply to teachers. Peter Greene, Forbes, 7 June 2021 As that generation juggled work and family, there was no time to grasp sophisticated gaming mechanics or fattened, ever-more-complex controllers,... Travis Weir, WSJ, 12 Nov. 2020 During his best individual stretch midway through the second quarter, which helped ignite a surge and allowed the Cavs to grasp control, Mobley kept working on the left side of the floor. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 12 Aug. 2021 On July 21, Twitter revealed a new feature that’s got users talking—a downvote button that will help the platform better grasp the kinds of conversations its audience finds helpful. Brooklyn White, Essence, 21 July 2021 In fact, Ferrell hopes that the more fantastical elements of the novel will help readers better grasp the more disturbing aspects of the book. Seth Combs Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Worried about the puppy's well being stuck high up in the monkey's grasp without food or water, animal-loving residents of Taman Lestari Putra kept an eye on the primate and the pooch. Kelli Bender,, 24 Sep. 2021 With 1:09 left to play and the Browns trailing 33-29, Mayfield, his leg in the grasp of a defender, fired the ball toward Harrison Bryant down the left sideline, and it was picked off to send the Browns home empty at 0-1. cleveland, 12 Sep. 2021 The rest of them head up and over the train, save for Maggie, who ends up with a leg in the grasp of a groaner. Richard Rys, Vulture, 15 Aug. 2021 His workload was limited compared to those in previous camps, but Harbaugh wasn’t concerned that Jackson would be behind in his grasp of the offense for long. Jonas Shaffer,, 7 Aug. 2021 Dining out and whole-team clubhouse video sessions aren't quite in the Twins' grasp. Megan Ryan, Star Tribune, 10 Apr. 2021 Here was a chance to start anew, to wash away all that came before under Clay Helton, to salvage a season already slipping from its grasp. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2021 The man fled after the woman managed to free herself from his grasp, the statement said., 10 July 2021 Alas, their teamwork is no match for Dom’s Hulk-like Dodge Charger, who spectacularly breaks free from their grasp, even causing two cars to elaborately crash-flip into each other. Nick Allen, Vulture, 28 June 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

23 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Grasp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 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

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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