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Grapple (third-person singular simple present Grapples, present participle grappling, simple past and past participle grappled)

  1. (transitive) to seize something and hold it firmly
  2. (transitive) (figuratively) to ponder and intensely evaluate a problem; normally used with "with".
    • To fail to grapple with one's conscious is to see the conscious weaken.
  3. (intransitive) to use a grapple
  4. (intransitive) to wrestle or tussle


Grapple (countable and uncountable; plural Grapples)
  1. (nautical) a device consisting of iron claws, attached to the end of a rope, used for grasping and holding an enemy ship prior to boarding; a grapnel or grappling iron
  2. (uncountable) the act of grappling
  3. a close hand-to-hand struggle

Adjectives for Grapple

iron; death; watchful; painful; damaging; bruising.

Adverbs for Grapple

frantically; painfully; bruisingly; fiercely; vigorously; methodically; firmly.

Synonyms for Grapple

seize, clutch, catch, clinch, hug, hold, hook, clamp, cope, wrestle, contend, struggle, clasp, fasten, comprehend, understand, unite.

Antonyms for Grapple

release, unleash, loose, abandon, surrender, ignore, withdraw.


abduct, adhere to, affix, anchor, annex, attach, battle, bear hug, belay, bite, box, brawl, broil, carry off, catch, cement, cinch, clamp, clash, clasp, cleave to, clench, clinch, cling, clinging, clip, close, clutch, collide, combat, come to blows, contend, contend with, contest, cope with, cramp, cut and thrust, deal with, death grip, duel, embrace, engraft, exchange blows, face, fasten, fence, feud, fight, fight a duel, firm hold, fix, foothold, footing, freeze to, give and take, give satisfaction, grab, graft, grapple with, grasp, grip, gripe, hang on, hang on to, hold, hold fast, hold on, hold on to, hold tight, hug, iron grip, jostle, joust, keep hold of, kidnap, knit, make fast, mix it up, moor, nab, nail, never let go, nip, purchase, put to, quarrel, rassle, riot, run a tilt, scramble, screw up, scuffle, secure, seize, seizure, set, set to, shanghai, skirmish, snatch, spar, stick to, strive, struggle, struggle with, tackle, take, take on, tenure, throttle, thrust and parry, tight grip, tighten, tilt, toehold, tourney, trice up, trim, tussle, wage war, war, wrestle

Alternative forms


  • (UK) IPA: /ˈɡɹæp.əl/, SAMPA: /"gr{p.@l/
    Rhymes: -æpəl

Etymology 1

From Middle English *grapplen (to seize, lay hold of), from Old English *græpplian (to seize) (compare Old English ġegræppian (to seize)), from Proto-Germanic *graipilōnan, *grabbalōnan (to seize), from Proto-Indo-European *ghreb(h)-, *ghrab(h)- (to take, seize, rake). Cognate with Dutch grabbelen (to grope, scramble, scrabble), German grabbeln (to rummage, grope about), German grapsen, grapschen (to seize, grasp, grabble). Influenced in some senses by grapple (hook, noun) (see below). More at grasp.

Etymology 2

From Middle English *grapple, *graple, from Old French grappil (a ship's grapple) (compare Old French grappin (hook)), from Old French grape, grappe, crape (hook), of Germanic origin, from Old Low Frankish *krappo (hook), from Proto-Germanic *krappô, *krappan (hook), from Proto-Indo-European *grep- (hook), *gremb- (crooked, uneven), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- (to turn, bend, twist). More at grape.