View synonyms for grasp


[ grasp, grahsp ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to seize and hold by or as if by clasping with the fingers or arms.

    Synonyms: grab, clutch, grip

    Antonyms: release

  2. to seize upon; hold firmly.
  3. to get hold of mentally; comprehend; understand:

    I don't grasp your meaning.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make an attempt to seize, or a motion of seizing, something (usually followed by at or for ):

    a drowning man grasping at straws; to grasp for an enemy's rifle.


  1. the act of grasping or gripping, as with the hands or arms:

    to make a grasp at something.

  2. a hold or grip:

    to have a firm grasp of a rope.

  3. one's arms or hands, in embracing or gripping:

    He took her in his grasp.

  4. one's power of seizing and holding; reach:

    to have a thing within one's grasp.

  5. hold, possession, or mastery:

    to wrest power from the grasp of a usurper.

    Synonyms: clutches

  6. mental hold or capacity; power to understand.

    Synonyms: comprehension, apprehension, understanding

  7. broad or thorough comprehension:

    a good grasp of computer programming.


/ ɡrɑːsp /


  1. to grip (something) firmly with or as if with the hands
  2. whenintr, often foll by at to struggle, snatch, or grope (for)
  3. tr to understand, esp with effort


  1. the act of grasping
  2. a grip or clasp, as of a hand
  3. the capacity to accomplish (esp in the phrase within one's grasp )
  4. total rule or possession
  5. understanding; comprehension

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˈgrasper, noun
  • ˈgraspable, adjective

Discover More

Other Words From

  • graspa·ble adjective
  • grasper noun
  • graspless adjective
  • re·grasp verb (used with object)
  • un·graspa·ble adjective
  • un·grasped adjective

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of grasp1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English graspen, grapsen; cognate with Low German grapsen; akin to Old English gegræppian “to seize” ( grapple )

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of grasp1

C14: from Low German grapsen; related to Old English græppian to seize, Old Norse grāpa to steal

Discover More

Idioms and Phrases

In addition to the idiom beginning with grasp , also see get a fix on (grasp of) .

Discover More

Synonym Study

See catch. Grasp, reach refer to the power of seizing, either concretely or figuratively. Grasp suggests actually seizing and closing the hand upon something (or, figuratively, thoroughly comprehending something) and therefore refers to what is within one's possession or immediate possibility of possession: a good grasp of a problem; immense mental grasp. Reach suggests a stretching out of (usually) the hand to touch, strike, or, if possible, seize something; it therefore refers to a potentiality of possession that requires an effort. Figuratively, it implies perhaps a faint conception of something still too far beyond one to be definitely and clearly understood.

Discover More

Example Sentences

They have locked down pathways to that power to limit the likelihood that it will move out of their grasp.

If you suffer from gaming sickness, there’s unfortunately no scientific evidence you’ll ever free yourself from its grasp.

Still, the Hong Kong group wanted more data to get a better grasp of the situation.

Things to consider when buying an external hard driveBefore you make an effort to purchase an external drive, it helps if you have a firm grasp not only on what you need to store but how much of it you have and how accessible it needs to be.

In many instances, there is neither a shared set of truths nor a solid-enough grasp of history, even among those with the greatest power.

From Ozy

And the more she is forced to recount, the more her grasp of reality slips, or heightens, depending on your point of view.

The grasp on the sabre would tighten; the quiet eyes would flash.

It also seemed that Biden had a good grasp of the subtleties of Iraqi politics.

But the problem with Virgin Galactic is that Branson has never had any real grasp of how serious the technical challenges are.

Just a few months ago my 3-year-old son, mid-tantrum, broke my grasp to run from me in a crowded subway station.

Never grasp a Fern plant from above and try to pull it away, as this will be almost sure to result in damage.

We suffer, nearly all of us, from a lack of quantitative grasp and from an imperfect grasp of form.

This widening grasp of languages is or was within the capacity of nearly everyone born into the world—given the facilities.

Frulein Fichtner is more in the bravura than in the sentimental line, and she has a certain breadth, grasp, and freshness.

His mind is characterized by the literalness, rather than the comprehensive grasp of great subjects.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




Grasmeregrasp at straws