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

  • transitive v. To take hold of or seize firmly with or as if with the hand.
  • transitive v. To clasp firmly with or as if with the hand.
  • transitive v. To take hold of intellectually; comprehend. See Synonyms at apprehend.
  • intransitive v. To make a motion of seizing, snatching, or clutching.
  • intransitive v. To show eager and prompt willingness or acceptance: grasps at any opportunity.
  • n. The act of grasping.
  • n. A firm hold or grip.
  • n. An embrace.
  • n. The ability or power to seize or attain; reach: Victory in the election was within her grasp.
  • n. Understanding; comprehension: "only a vague intuitive grasp of the meaning of greatness in literature” ( Gilbert Highet).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To grip; to take hold, particularly with the hand.
  • v. To understand.
  • n. grip
  • n. understanding
  • n. that which is accessible; that which is within one's reach or ability

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A gripe or seizure of the hand; a seizure by embrace, or infolding in the arms.
  • n. Reach of the arms; hence, the power of seizing and holding.
  • n. Forcible possession; hold.
  • n. Wide-reaching power of intellect to comprehend subjects and hold them under survey.
  • n. The handle of a sword or of an oar.
  • intransitive v. To effect a grasp; to make the motion of grasping; to clutch; to struggle; to strive.
  • transitive v. To seize and hold by clasping or embracing with the fingers or arms; to catch to take possession of.
  • transitive v. To lay hold of with the mind; to become thoroughly acquainted or conversant with; to comprehend.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To seize and hold by clasping or embracing with the fingers or arms.
  • To seize upon; take possession of.
  • To seize by the intellect; become thoroughly cognizant of; comprehend.
  • To make a grasp, or the motion of grasping; seize something firmly or eagerly.
  • n. A grip or seizure by the hand; the act of taking or attempting to take hold of something.
  • n. Power of seizing and holding; forcible possession.
  • n. Power of the intellect to seize and comprehend subjects; wide-reaching power of comprehension.

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

  • v. hold firmly
  • v. get the meaning of something
  • n. the act of grasping
  • n. an intellectual hold or understanding
  • n. understanding of the nature or meaning or quality or magnitude of something
  • n. the limit of capability


Middle English graspen; see ghrebh-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally "to feel around", possibly metathesis of Old English græpsan "to touch, feel," from Proto-Germanic *graipison. (Wiktionary)



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