[ grab ]
See synonyms for: grabgrabbedgrabbing on

verb (used with object),grabbed, grab·bing.
  1. to seize suddenly or quickly; snatch; clutch: He grabbed me by the collar.

  2. to take illegal possession of; seize forcibly or unscrupulously: to grab land.

  1. to obtain and consume quickly: Let's grab a sandwich before going to the movie.

  2. Slang.

    • to cause a reaction in; affect: How does my idea grab you?

    • to arouse the interest or excitement of: The book was O.K., but it just didn't grab me.

verb (used without object),grabbed, grab·bing.
  1. to make a grasping or clutching motion (usually followed by at): He grabbed frantically at the life preserver.

  2. (of brakes, a clutch, etc.) to take hold suddenly or with a jolting motion; catch.

  1. a sudden, quick grasp or snatch: to make a grab at something.

  2. seizure or acquisition by violent or unscrupulous means.

  1. something that is grabbed.

  2. a mechanical device for gripping objects.

  3. the capacity to hold or adhere: The glue was so old it had lost its grab.

Idioms about grab

  1. up for grabs, Informal. available to anyone willing to expend the energy to get it: The Republican nomination for mayor was up for grabs.

Origin of grab

First recorded in 1580–90; cognate with Middle Dutch, Middle Low German grabben, Swedish grabba

Other words for grab

Other words from grab

  • grab·ba·ble, adjective
  • un·grab·bing, adjective

Other definitions for grab (2 of 2)

[ grab ]

  1. a ship having two or three masts with a square rig, common on the Malabar Coast in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Origin of grab

First recorded in 1670–80; from Arabic ghurāb literally, “raven” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use grab in a sentence

  • She was waving a twig of lavender, and little Martha was making grabs at it, and laughing her gurgling laugh of babyish glee.

  • So when she grabs holt of me and asts me agin what did I mean I blubbered harder, jest the way a kid will, and says nothing else.

    Danny's Own Story | Don Marquis
  • When you quitted the door level for the third ascent you would cease to worry about impossible grabs.

    The Pillar of Light | Louis Tracy
  • But he ain't home daytimes, to count what eggs is laid, an' so I watches out an' grabs one a day.

    Mary Louise in the Country | L. Frank Baum (AKA Edith Van Dyne)
  • Then he busts out an' grabs me by the throat an' near choked the life out or me.

    Mary Louise in the Country | L. Frank Baum (AKA Edith Van Dyne)

British Dictionary definitions for grab


/ (ɡræb) /

verbgrabs, grabbing or grabbed
  1. to seize hold of (something)

  2. (tr) to seize illegally or unscrupulously

  1. (tr) to arrest; catch

  2. (intr) (of a brake or clutch in a vehicle) to grip and release intermittently causing juddering

  3. (tr) informal to catch the attention or interest of; impress

  1. the act or an instance of grabbing

  2. a mechanical device for gripping objects, esp the hinged jaws of a mechanical excavator

  1. something that is grabbed

  2. up for grabs informal available to be bought, claimed, or won

Origin of grab

C16: probably from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch grabben; related to Swedish grabba, Sanskrit grbhnāti he seizes

Derived forms of grab

  • grabber, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with grab


In addition to the idiom beginning with grab

  • grab bag

also see:

  • how does that grab you
  • up for grabs

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.