American English

Definition of grasp verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they grasp
    he / she / it grasps
    past simple grasped
    -ing form grasping
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  1. 1 grasp somebody/something to take a firm hold of someone or something synonym grip He grasped my hand and shook it warmly. Kay grasped him by the wrist. Thesaurusholdhold on cling clutch grip grasp clasp hang onThese words all mean to have something or someone in your hands or arms.hold to have something or someone in your hand or arms:She was holding a large box. I held the baby gently in my arms.hold on (to somebody/something) to continue to hold something or someone; to put your hand on something or someone and not take your hand away:Hold on and don't let go until I say so.cling to hold on to something or someone tightly, especially with your whole body:Survivors clung to pieces of floating debris.clutch to hold something or someone tightly, especially in your hand; to take hold of something suddenly:She stood there, the flowers still clutched in her hand. He felt himself slipping and clutched at a branch.grip to hold on to something very tightly with your hand:Grip the rope as tightly as you can.grasp to take hold of something firmly:He grasped my hand and shook it warmly.clasp (formal) to hold something or someone tightly in your hand or in your arms:They clasped hands (= held each other's hands). She clasped the children to her breast. The object of clasp is often your hands, someone else's hand, or another person.hang on (to something) to hold on to something very tightly, especially in order to support yourself or stop yourself from falling:Hang on to the safety rope in case you slip and fall.Patterns to hold/clutch/grip/clasp something in your hand/hands to hold/clasp somebody/something in your arms to hold/hang on to something to hold/cling/hang on to hold/clutch/clasp somebody/something to you to hold/hold on to/cling to/clutch/grip/grasp/clasp/hang on to somebody/something tightly to hold/hold on to/cling to/clutch/grip/grasp/clasp somebody/something firmly to hold/hold on to/clutch/grip/clasp/hang on to somebody/something tight
  2. 2to understand something completely grasp something They failed to grasp the importance of his words. grasp how, why, etc… She was unable to grasp how to do it. grasp that… It took him some time to grasp that he was now a public figure. Thesaurusunderstandsee get follow grasp comprehendThese words all mean to know or realize something, for example why something happens, how something works, or what something means.understand to know or realize the meaning of words, a language, what someone says, etc.; to know or realize how or why something happens, how it works, or why it is important:I don't understand the instructions. Doctors are just beginning to understand the causes of the disease.see to understand what is happening, what someone is saying, how something works, or how important something is:Ah ha—I see how it works now. Oh yes, I see what you mean.get (informal) to understand a joke, what someone is trying to tell you, or a situation that they are trying to describe:She didn't get the joke. I don't get you.follow to understand an explanation, a story, or the meaning of something:Sorry—I don't quite follow what you're saying. The plot is almost impossible to follow.grasp to come to understand a fact, an idea, or how to do something:They failed to grasp the importance of his words.understand or grasp?You can use understand or grasp for the action of realizing the meaning or importance of something for the first time:It's a difficult concept for children to understand/grasp.Only understand can be used to talk about languages, words, or writing:I don't grasp French/the instructions.comprehend (often used in negative statements) (formal) to understand a fact, an idea, or a reason:The concept of infinity is almost impossible for us to comprehend.Patterns to understand/see/get/follow/grasp/comprehend what… to understand/see/get/grasp/comprehend why/how… to understand/see/grasp/comprehend that… to understand/see/get/grasp the point/idea (of something) to be easy/difficult/hard to understand/see/follow/grasp/comprehend to fully understand/see/grasp/comprehend something
  3. 3 grasp a chance/an opportunity to take an opportunity without hesitating and use it I grasped the opportunity to work in Europe.
  4. Idioms
    clutch/grasp at straws
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    to try all possible means to find a solution or some hope in a difficult or unpleasant situation, even though this seems very unlikely I know I'm just clutching at straws here, but is it possible that the doctors are wrong?
    Phrasal Verbsgrasp at something
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: grasp