moving or going about clumsily or hesitantly; stumbling.
showing or reflecting a desire to understand, especially something that proves puzzling: a groping scrutiny; a groping expression.

Origin of groping

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at grope, -ing2
Related formsgrop·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used without object), groped, grop·ing.

to feel about with the hands; feel one's way: I had to grope around in the darkness before I found the light switch.
to search blindly or uncertainly: He seemed to be groping for an answer to the question.

verb (used with object), groped, grop·ing.

to seek by or as if by groping: to grope one's way up the dark stairs.
to touch or handle (someone) for sexual pleasure.


an act or instance of groping.
Slang. an act or instance of sexually fondling another person.

Origin of grope

before 900; Middle English gropien, Old English grāpian, derivative of grāp grasp; akin to gripe, grasp

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

Examples from the Web for groping

Contemporary Examples of groping

Historical Examples of groping

  • Dorcas went to her bedroom, touching the walls, on the way, with her groping hands.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • I caught at it, and, groping up the stairs, gained my high window-seat.

  • Do you suppose I'd want him to just go 'groping around' like he was telling you?

    Alice Adams

    Booth Tarkington

  • Luckily, the old Frenchman was groping his way next the other wall.

  • In college he had appealed to me because there I was groping and had found nothing.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

British Dictionary definitions for groping



(intr usually foll by for) to feel or search about uncertainly (for something) with the hands
(intr; usually foll by for or after) to search uncertainly or with difficulty (for a solution, answer, etc)
(tr) to find or make (one's way) by groping
(tr) slang to feel or fondle the body of (someone) for sexual gratification


the act of groping
Derived Formsgropingly, adverb

Word Origin for grope

Old English grāpian; related to Old High German greifōn, Norwegian greipa; compare gripe
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 groping



Old English grapian "to feel about (as one blind or in darkness)," originally "lay hold of, seize, touch, attain," related to gripan "grasp at" (see gripe). Figurative sense is from early 14c. Indecent sense (marked as "obsolete" in OED) is from c.1200. Related: Groped; groping. The noun is Old English grap.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper