Old English grippan "to grip, seize, obtain" (class I strong verb; past tense grap, past participle gripen), from West Germanic *gripjan (cf. Old High German gripfen "to rob," Old English gripan "to seize;" see gripe). Related: Gripped; gripping. French gripper "to seize," griffe "claw" are Germanic loan-words.
fusion of Old English gripe "grasp, clutch" and gripa "handful, sheaf" (see grip (v.)). Meaning "stage hand" is from 1888, from their work shifting scenery.
[second sense a shortening of gripsack]