From Middle English begripen, bigripen, from Old English begrīpan (“to grip, seize, lay hold of; chide”), from Proto-Germanic *bigrīpaną, equivalent to be- (“around, about”) + gripe. Cognate with Dutch begrijpen (“to grasp, comprehend”), German begreifen (“to grasp, comprehend, realise, understand”), Swedish begripa (“to grasp, understand”).
- (transitive) To lay hold of; apprehend; grip; grasp.
1865, Dante Alighieri, The Comedy of Dante Allighieri. [sic]: Part I--The Hell:
- He, with his middle feet, begriped his paunch, And took the arms with the anterior; And then he bit both one and other cheek.
- 1899, Sir Thomas Malory, Sir Edward Strachey, William Caxton, Le morte Darthur:
- And as for this sword there shall never man begripe it at the handle but one, but he shall pass all other. In the name of God, said Percivale, I shall essay to handle it. So he set his hand to the sword, but he might not begripe it.