holding the attention or interest intensely; fascinating; enthralling: a gripping play; a gripping book.

Origin of gripping

First recorded in 1620–30; grip + -ing2
Related formsgrip·ping·ly, adverbgrip·ping·ness, noun




the act of grasping; a seizing and holding fast; firm grasp.
the power of gripping: He has a strong grip.
a grasp, hold, or control.
mental or intellectual hold: to have a good grip on a problem.
competence or firmness in dealing with situations in one's work or personal affairs: The boss is old and is losing his grip.
a special mode of clasping hands: Members of the club use the secret grip.
something that seizes and holds, as a clutching device on a cable car.
a handle or hilt: That knife has a very unusual grip.
a sudden, sharp pain; spasm of pain.
Older Use. a small traveling bag.
  1. Theater.a stagehand, especially one who works on the stage floor.
  2. Movies, Television.a general assistant available on a film set for shifting scenery, moving furniture, etc.

verb (used with object), gripped or gript, grip·ping.

to grasp or seize firmly; hold fast: We gripped the sides of the boat as the waves tossed us about.
to take hold on; hold the interest of: to grip the mind.
to attach by a grip or clutch.

verb (used without object), gripped or gript, grip·ping.

to take firm hold; hold fast.
to take hold on the mind.


    come to grips with,
    1. to encounter; meet; cope with: She had never come to grips with such a situation before.
    2. to deal with directly or firmly: We didn't come to grips with the real problem.

Origin of grip

before 900; Middle English, Old English gripe grasp (noun); cognate with German Griff, Old English gripa handful; see gripe
Related formsgrip·less, adjectivere·grip, verb, re·gripped or re·gript, re·grip·ping.un·grip, verb, un·gripped, un·grip·ping.
Can be confusedgrip gripe grippe

Synonyms for grip Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gripping

Contemporary Examples of gripping

Historical Examples of gripping

  • I hadn't returned it, after all; had been gripping it all the time, unknowing.

  • Peaceful Hart stood indecisively, and stared, one and gripping the back of his chair.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • The youths, gripping tightly their rifles and muskets, waited.

    The Dare Boys of 1776

    Stephen Angus Cox

  • He rose and bent over me gripping my arms, and I felt his violent trembling.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • His powerful hands were gripping his Winchester, and he stood ready.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for gripping




the act or an instance of grasping and holding firmlyhe lost his grip on the slope
Also called: handgrip the strength or pressure of such a grasp, as in a handshakea feeble grip
the style or manner of grasping an object, such as a tennis racket
understanding, control, or mastery of a subject, problem, etc (esp in such phrases as get or have a grip on)
Also called: handgrip a part by which an object is grasped; handle
Also called: handgrip a travelling bag or holdall
any device that holds by friction, such as certain types of brake
a method of clasping or shaking hands used by members of secret societies to greet or identify one another
a spasm of paina grip in one's stomach
a worker in a camera crew or a stagehand who shifts sets and props, etc
a small drainage channel cut above an excavation to conduct surface water away from the excavation
get to grips or come to grips (often foll by with)
  1. to deal with (a problem or subject)
  2. to tackle (an assailant)

verb grips, gripping or gripped

to take hold of firmly or tightly, as by a clutch
to hold the interest or attention ofto grip an audience
Derived Formsgripper, noungrippingly, adverb

Word Origin for grip

Old English gripe grasp; related to Old Norse gripr property, Old High German grif




med a variant spelling of grippe
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 gripping

"grasping the emotions," 1896, figurative use of present participle adjective from grip (v.).



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with gripping


see come to grips with; get a grip on; lose one's grip.

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