from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fastening, such as a hook or buckle, used to hold two or more objects or parts together.
  • n. An embrace or hug.
  • n. A grip or grasp of the hand.
  • n. A small metal bar or other device attached to the ribbon of a military decoration to indicate the action or service for which it was awarded or an additional award of the same medal.
  • transitive v. To fasten with or as if with a clasp.
  • transitive v. To hold in a tight embrace.
  • transitive v. To grip firmly in or with the hand; grasp.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fastener or holder, particularly one that clasps.
  • n. An embrace, a grasp, or handshake.
  • v. To take hold of; to grasp; to grab tightly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An adjustable catch, bent plate, or hook, for holding together two objects or the parts of anything, as the ends of a belt, the covers of a book, etc.
  • n. A close embrace; a throwing of the arms around; a grasping, as with the hand.
  • transitive v. To shut or fasten together with, or as with, a clasp; to shut or fasten (a clasp, or that which fastens with a clasp).
  • transitive v. To inclose and hold in the hand or with the arms; to grasp; to embrace.
  • transitive v. To surround and cling to; to entwine about.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To catch and hold by twining or embracing; surround and cling to, as a vine to a tree; embrace closely; inclose or encompass, as with the arms, hands, or fingers; grasp.
  • To shut or fasten together with or as with a clasp.
  • To cling.
  • To attach holdfasts of metal to the outer edges of (a book-cover) to prevent its yawning or warping.
  • n. A catch or hook used to hold together two things, or two parts of the same thing.
  • n. Specifically— A broad, flat hook or catch used to hold together the covers of a book.
  • n. A hook used to hold together two parts of a garment, or serve as an ornament: as, a cloak-clasp. See agraffe, brooch, fermail.
  • n. A small piece of tin or other metal passed through or around two objects, and bent over to fasten them together.
  • n. In spinning, an arrangement consisting of two horizontal beams, the upper pressed upon the lower one, or lifted for drawing out the thread.
  • n. A clinging or grasping, especially of the arms or hands; a close embrace.
  • n. In entomology, the claspers at the end of the male abdomen, designed for retaining the female.
  • n.
  • n. In the British army, a narrow flat bar of metal forming part of a military decoration, and bearing the name of some action at which the bearer was present.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. grasp firmly
  • n. the act of grasping
  • n. a fastener (as a buckle or hook) that is used to hold two things together
  • v. hold firmly and tightly
  • v. fasten with or as if with a brooch
  • v. fasten with a buckle or buckles


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English claspe, probably ultimately from Old English clyppan, to grasp, hold.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Noun dated in the 13th Century CE and verb dated in the late 14th Century CE; from claspe, possible modification of clapse, which is from Old English clyppan ("to grasp"). Related to enclasp ("embrace, hold tightly in one's arms").


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  • Though I waste watches framing words to fetter

    Some spirit to mine own in clasp and kiss,

    Out of the night there looms a sense ’twere better

    To fail obtaining whom one fails to miss.

    - Thomas Hardy, 'Revulsion'.

    September 18, 2009

  • "... the scarcely less famous Robert Meldrum came within a bar of carrying off the clasp (the top prize in piobaireachd playing) at the age of eighty at the Northern Meeting at Inverness."

    —William Donaldson, Pipers: A Guide to the Players and Music of the Highland Bagpipe (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2005), 13

    July 27, 2008