Definition of grasp in English:



  • 1 Seize and hold firmly.

    ‘she grasped the bottle’
    ‘Edward grasped her by the wrist’
    • ‘I stepped forward and grasped the letter-opener firmly, then pulled it out of his hands.’
    • ‘She ran her pencil down the paper that was firmly grasped in her left hand.’
    • ‘Robin reached out, grasped it firmly again, and started to take a step forward.’
    • ‘On the way, Daryn's hand snaked over to mine and grasped mine firmly, giving it a squeeze, which I returned.’
    • ‘Michael quickly fell asleep in his bed, his hand grasping mine which was clutching back frantically.’
    • ‘But as Jack drew near, he saw that the reins were firmly grasped in one hand, as if the rider had been riding Western style.’
    • ‘The two men - who Rob later found out were orderlies - firmly grasped Rob by his arms and carried him out to the car.’
    • ‘Its long, smooth blade glints in the lights as she grasps the handle firmly in both hands.’
    • ‘Still firmly grasping Ethan by the arm, Giles propelled him to Melissa's side.’
    • ‘He rushed to the scene with the container firmly grasped in his hand.’
    • ‘Her blood-red lips and hooded eyes, her large hands firmly grasping the wheel, all convey a woman in control of her destiny.’
    • ‘Her eyes pleaded with him, her hand still firmly grasping his.’
    • ‘John grasped Rob firmly by the wrist and moved toward the door.’
    • ‘I stared at his hand, and after a beat of silence, grasped it firmly, my eyes twinkling dangerously.’
    • ‘Use the most accessible implement at your disposal which can be grasped firmly by hand.’
    • ‘He extends a limp hand which Sharon grasps firmly.’
    • ‘Sarah grasped Matthew firmly round the waist, pulling him towards the stairs.’
    • ‘Avon grasped the Divine Crystal firmly in his hands and scanned the landscape, but was unable to see anything.’
    • ‘I grasped his hand firmly and he walked up to the desk.’
    • ‘She turned and grasped him firmly, making ready to fly him to safety.’
    grip, clutch, clasp, hold, clench, lay hold of
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    1. 1.1Take (an opportunity) eagerly.
      ‘many companies grasped the opportunity to expand’
      • ‘There is a warning there that we could fall behind, but there is also an opportunity to be grasped.’
      • ‘Training opportunities are also grasped, from the routine business of minehunting to casualty-handling, salvage and firefighting.’
      • ‘The attitude of the local council is lamentable in not grasping this opportunity with both hands.’
      • ‘Better still, it provided the facilities to get to know them better and we grasped the opportunity to quiz some of this year's new faces.’
      • ‘There's no need to run to the law for change, there are people trying to cater for you and you fail to grasp your opportunities.’
      • ‘Whether or not we shall grasp the opportunities to do so is entirely a different matter.’
      • ‘Would-be entrepreneurs can pick up advice on how to make a million by attending a course which will tackle the blend of skills they need to grasp opportunities that may crop up.’
      • ‘To fail to grasp these opportunities really is truly criminal.’
      • ‘"We will grasp such an opportunity to provide local economic development with greater momentum, " he said.’
      • ‘If we do not grasp this opportunity we will be doing a disservice to the residents of this borough.’
      • ‘The uncertainties and hazards that made war so unpredictable and uncontrollable were not barriers to be eliminated but opportunities to be grasped and exploited.’
      • ‘However, David is ready to grasp his opportunity should it be presented.’
      • ‘Let's just say that I am not slow to grasp the opportunities which this affords.’
      • ‘The Party eagerly grasped the opportunity to use his celebrity status to raise its public profile.’
      • ‘Private operators have grasped this opportunity, attracting new medical talent from as far afield as Canada, South Africa and the US.’
      • ‘‘Life is all about grasping opportunities,’ she says, which explains how she wound up owning a hotel.’
      • ‘It is our intention to work closely in partnership to grasp this opportunity to inject renewed momentum into the process.’
      • ‘Yet he has grasped his opportunities and appears genuinely keen to learn from the opportunity to work with some of the most established stars in the industry.’
      • ‘Similarly, the opportunity should be grasped to ease internal tensions.’
      • ‘Unfortunately most of them didn't appear to want to grasp that opportunity.’
      take advantage of, act on
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    2. 1.2Comprehend fully.
      ‘the press failed to grasp the significance of what had happened’
      • ‘I sensed that she had fully grasped what I was proposing, and she was already mentally writing a floor speech in support of such a bill.’
      • ‘I use irrational here to mean something which human reason is ill-equipped to grasp or comprehend, but which may nonetheless play an important role in human affairs.’
      • ‘I know that this state of affairs is not fully grasped by the general public in Europe and North America.’
      • ‘I don't think people have fully grasped the significance of what's occurred.’
      • ‘As with an ancient ritual, the meanings of this game cannot be fully grasped.’
      • ‘The ultimate power of advances such as cable and satellite could not be fully grasped in the 1960s.’
      • ‘It was all so above her understanding, but somehow she knew that they loved each other, in some way that could never be fully grasped.’
      • ‘Although the basic ideas can be grasped relatively quickly, the full method takes longer to absorb.’
      • ‘In general, most patients fail to fully grasp and follow even basic health care instructions.’
      • ‘At that time, this fact had not been fully grasped by some of the more traditional sporting bodies.’
      • ‘Fully grasping a concept involves understanding its relationships to other concepts.’
      • ‘However, their profundity is usually very elusive and it may take weeks, months or even years to fully grasp their significance.’
      • ‘That is something that I think some previous speakers in this debate seem to have not grasped as fully as they might.’
      • ‘The result is spectacular, breathtaking, and needs to be seen to be grasped fully.’
      • ‘Without this crucial element, we can never expect to grasp fully the workings of large-group psychology.’
      • ‘Further, what is infinitely great cannot be fully grasped by our finite minds.’
      • ‘This seems so obvious that it is a surprise when scientists don't grasp this very simple idea.’
      • ‘Nations without our long history of a free press may not grasp this.’
      • ‘Here again, the significance of this development can only be fully grasped on the basis of Marx's analysis of the commodity form.’
      • ‘Security is a complex science that most fail to grasp comprehensively.’
      understand, comprehend, follow, take in, realize, perceive, see, apprehend, assimilate, absorb, make sense of, master, get to the bottom of, penetrate
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  • 1[in singular] A firm hold or grip.

    ‘the child slipped from her grasp’
    • ‘With that, he moved his fingers to have a firmer grasp on the gun.’
    • ‘He placed a firm grasp on her shoulders and looked into her eyes that were welled with tears.’
    • ‘His gaze quickly shifted down to the journal in the blond man's grasp.’
    • ‘He stepped out of the shadows, but a firm grasp of his arm pulled him backward again.’
    • ‘She tried to rip her wrist out of his grip but his grasp was too firm.’
    • ‘I just want to run through the aisles, and that is exactly what I would do, if only Chester didn't have her hand in a firm grasp around my wrist.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, Jonathan had a firm grasp on one of Angela's thighs.’
    • ‘Matching his actions, she took it in a firm grasp and shook it quickly.’
    • ‘Once or twice her feet lost their footing, but with a firm grasp of the rope, Charlie was able to regain her balance, and continue repelling downward.’
    • ‘Jason put his hands on Jed's shoulder and took a firm grasp.’
    • ‘Putting a firm grasp around his waist, she practically dragged him into the joining room across the splintering and cracked floorboards.’
    • ‘His grasp was firm, but not painful, until he took her by the wrist.’
    • ‘The child squirmed free of the man's grasp and fell to the ground.’
    • ‘He had a firm grasp on her arm, but when she turned to him, he avoided her gaze.’
    • ‘It felt like I was suffocating, like someone had taken a firm grasp around my throat and wasn't thinking about letting go anytime soon.’
    • ‘Each of the sailors had a firm grasp on her elbows and shoulders, and she attempted to kick them away, but missed.’
    • ‘I ran harder, but Jessica's war cry rung in my ears and she collided into me, taking a firm grasp of my arm and pulled me in a rather strong headlock.’
    • ‘All students are accompanied by the instructor who has a firm grasp on them and on an anchor line to make sure they don't go up too fast and damage their eardrums.’
    • ‘Scott stepped forward, and took my hand in a firm grasp, kissing it lightly.’
    • ‘After an eternity, I somehow managed to pull my hand from my mother's grasp.’
    grip, hold
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    1. 1.1A person's power or capacity to attain something.
      ‘he knew success was within his grasp’
      • ‘Then, as now, good writing is within the grasp of those who seek it.’
      • ‘Yes, I suppose it is, but it's also achievable and is within the grasp of the farming and rural communities throughout the county and beyond.’
      • ‘With technology within the grasp of the artist herself, the ramifications are massive.’
      • ‘Tasmania's State Library in Hobart has placed some of the state's most precious musical heritage within the grasp of music lovers everywhere.’
      • ‘To come back from a seven point deficit may have been just about within the grasp of the West side but now they had a mountain to climb’
      • ‘We are surrounded by saleable items whose availability is within the grasp of our hands.’
      • ‘All of it started to assemble, speeding up, the grasp on his power lost.’
      • ‘I suppose being within the grasp of freedom will do that to you.’
      • ‘Many are walking around dazed and bewildered at the shape of things and the grasp of power.’
      • ‘Living in a work of art is a luxury always available to the rich, but also within the grasp of anyone who is in the habit of saving for a holiday.’
      • ‘Jargon is used to put up a smokescreen, hiding principles which are well within the grasp of the average citizen.’
      • ‘But the grasp of politicians on power is not likely to loosen quickly and the alternative democratic leadership is slow to develop.’
      • ‘It is not unattainable, it is within the reach and grasp of all who strive and aspire to have it.’
      • ‘Many top jobs are within the grasp of historians.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, even international destinations are within the grasp of cycle commuters.’
      • ‘It's brought being on television within the grasp of the common people, and that's exciting for us.’
      • ‘For those within the grasp of capital, however, more is necessary than simply to understand the nature of capital and its roots in exploitation.’
      • ‘That's our court, that's within our jurisdiction, within our grasp.’
      • ‘Classical dance and music are no longer elitist, but within the grasp of middle income Indians.’
      • ‘There are those who snigger that it was a fine strategy by the old comrades, who have perfected the art of using each other for keeping power within their grasp.’
      reach, scope, capacity, power, limits, range, compass
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    2. 1.2A person's understanding.
      ‘meanings that are beyond my grasp’
      ‘his grasp of detail’
      • ‘True love is the elation that comes of true knowledge, an intuitive grasp of the world.’
      • ‘We have also included a graph and table which are not beyond the grasp of even the less than numerate.’
      • ‘The more she recalls - and she seems to have a vivid grasp of details - the more pained she seems by her weakness and denial.’
      • ‘Linux novices often find virtual memory mysterious, but with a grasp of the fundamental concepts, it's easy to understand.’
      • ‘He delegated to junior ministers, but retained a formidable grasp of the policy details.’
      • ‘Players are intelligent, have vision and an incredible grasp of reality because it's called livelihood.’
      • ‘Consequences are incurred which damage our children and our society far beyond the grasp of most commentators.’
      • ‘And we are not seeing what is actually there in the real time of stars, a concept quite beyond my grasp.’
      • ‘They have an excellent sense of expediency and grasp of the details which enables them to make quick, effective decisions.’
      • ‘But most people understood her grasp on the position was tenuous at best.’
      • ‘He liked David and they got on well together, as he invented games and lent him books which he saw and asked to borrow, even though Li felt they were beyond the grasp of a child.’
      • ‘He is favourably disposed to rivers and canals, exhibiting an impressive grasp of detail.’
      • ‘You have to understand and have a grasp of what is going to happen.’
      • ‘In other words, if we lack an emotional grasp of a concept, the intellectual awareness alone may not suffice to deter us from repeating a mistake.’
      • ‘His grasp of the details of the project and his excellent writing skills should combine to produce a highly readable book for creationist laymen.’
      • ‘But what so many commentators fail to grasp is an understanding of the experience of an athlete at the height of his powers, and in doing so they are losing sight of the appeal of sport.’
      • ‘He also displayed a good grasp of the detail of the issues covered.’
      • ‘They were encouraged to solve their own problems, which, I suspect, gave them an intuitive grasp of the concept that not all problems can be solved.’
      • ‘Some of the matters I cover even seem to be beyond the grasp of a lot of my academic colleagues.’
      • ‘Although I can see that there is an image contained upon it, the details remain beyond my grasp.’
      understanding, comprehension, perception, apprehension, awareness, grip, conception, realization, knowledge, cognizance, ken
      View synonyms


  • grasp at straws

  • grasp the nettle

    • Tackle a difficulty boldly.

      • ‘They have had ten years to see it coming and, if they had only grasped the nettle, providing separate areas and adequate ventilation, all could have co-existed in relative peace and mutual comfort.’
      • ‘We have not grasped the nettle and got down to reorganising how our services are delivered - 99 per cent of staff want to do that but we haven't been able to.’
      • ‘But she said: ‘I cannot accept the fact that no one grasped the nettle and took charge of clarifying the issue.’’
      • ‘Tackling mental health, grasping the nettle of introducing rights-based legislation will come at a cost.’
      • ‘The problems facing it will only get worse until someone grasps the nettle.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I am pleased that the Prime Minister is now re-examining my proposals but we shall see whether the Government really grasps the nettle regarding this issue.’’
      • ‘Still, grasping the nettle like this is probably his only chance, slim though it is.’
      • ‘I think the Government has really grasped the nettle, because this is a major issue for everybody now.’
      • ‘He warned the country could be facing another crisis unless the next Government grasps the nettle of public spending.’
      • ‘The new parish council is grasping the nettle to deal with vandalism.’


Late Middle English: perhaps related to grope.