[ gras-ping, grahs- ]
/ ˈgræs pɪŋ, ˈgrɑs- /


greedy; avaricious: a sly, grasping man.
being used to grasp or tending to grasp; tenacious.

Nearby words

  1. grasmere,
  2. grasp,
  3. grasp (clutch) at straws,
  4. grasp at straws,
  5. grasp reflex,
  6. graspingly,
  7. grass,
  8. grass box,
  9. grass carp,
  10. grass cloth

Origin of grasping

First recorded in 1540–50; grasp + -ing2

Related formsgrasp·ing·ly, adverbgrasp·ing·ness, nouno·ver·grasp·ing, adjectiveun·grasp·ing, adjective


[ grasp, grahsp ]
/ græsp, grɑsp /

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

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.


Origin of grasp

1350–1400; Middle English graspen, grapsen; cognate with Low German grapsen; akin to Old English gegræppian to seize (see grapple)

Related forms

Synonym study

1. See catch. 10. 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grasping

British Dictionary definitions for grasping


/ (ˈɡrɑːspɪŋ) /


greedy; avaricious; rapacious
Derived Formsgraspingly, adverb


/ (ɡrɑːsp) /



Derived Formsgraspable, adjectivegrasper, noun

Word Origin for grasp

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

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

Word Origin and History for grasping
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with grasping


In addition to the idiom beginning with grasp

  • grasp at straws

also see:

  • get a fix on (grasp of)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.