Definition of grasp verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    grasp

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//ɡrɑːsp//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɡræsp//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they grasp
    BrE BrE//ɡrɑːsp//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɡræsp//
     
    he / she / it grasps
    BrE BrE//ɡrɑːsps//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɡræsps//
     
    past simple grasped
    BrE BrE//ɡrɑːspt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɡræspt//
     
    past participle grasped
    BrE BrE//ɡrɑːspt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ɡræspt//
     
    -ing form grasping
    BrE BrE//ˈɡrɑːspɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈɡræspɪŋ//
     
     
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  1. 1grasp somebody/something to take a firm hold of somebody/something synonym grip He grasped my hand and shook it warmly. Kay grasped him by the wrist. Synonymsholdhold on cling clutch grip grasp clasp hang onThese words all mean to have somebody/​something in your hands or arms.hold to have somebody/​something 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 somebody/​something; to put your hand on somebody/​something and not take your hand away:Hold on and don’t let go until I say so.cling to hold on to somebody/​something tightly, especially with your whole body:Survivors clung to pieces of floating debris.clutch to hold somebody/​something 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. The object of grasp is often somebody’s hand or wrist.clasp (formal) to hold somebody/​something tightly in your hand or in your arms:They clasped hands (= held each other’s hands). She clasped the children in her arms. The object of clasp is often your hands, somebody 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 tight. We’re off!Patterns to hold/​clutch/​grip/​clasp something in your hand/​hands to hold/​catch/​clasp somebody/​something in your arms to hold/​clutch/​grip/​grasp/​clasp/​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. Synonymsunderstandsee 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 somebody 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 still don’t understand much about the disease.see to understand what is happening, what somebody is saying, how something works or how important something is:‘It opens like this.’ ‘Oh, I see.’ Oh yes, I see what you mean.get (informal) to understand a joke, what somebody 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. 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, idea or reason:The concept of infinity is almost impossible for the human mind to comprehend.Patterns to understand/​see/​get/​follow/​grasp/​comprehend what/​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. 3grasp a chance/an opportunity to take an opportunity without hesitating and use it I grasped the opportunity to work abroad.
  4. Word Origin late Middle English: perhaps related to grope.Extra examples He had not fully grasped the fact that he was the one who would pay for all this. He was quick to grasp the basic principles. Her hands were grasping at his coat. I hadn’t really grasped what they were talking about. She failed to grasp the significance of these facts. She grasped him tightly by the wrist. She grasped hold of the banister to support herself. Some of these concepts are very difficult to grasp. a means by which students can more easily grasp the basics of science By this time, engineers understood/​had grasped the basic principles of aerodynamics. He grasped the pan by its handle. It’s a difficult concept for children to understand/​grasp.Idioms 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? (British English) to deal with a difficult situation firmly and without hesitating The government now has the opportunity to grasp the nettle of prison reform. Phrasal Verbsgrasp at something
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: grasp