Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
- An extremely tight grip.
- The walker held with a death grip to his stick lest he drop it down the hill.
1792, “Domestic Intelligence: Dublin, Sept. 7, 1792”, in Walker's Hibernian Magazine or Compendium of Entertaining Knowledge for the Year 1792. Part II, Dublin: Printed by Joseph Walker, No. 79, Dame Street, page 287:
- Cunningham then declared […] that he was at Mr. Lyneall's, and saw Robinson snap his pistol, which did not go off; that he heard a voice from some one, saying fire! and also heard a shot, but did not know who fired; that Condron, the approver, afterwards told him he had no pistol, as he dropped it when he fired; that Condron could not help firing, as the gentleman who struggled with him held a death grip of the pistol he fired.
1831 February, “Art XIV.—The Romance of History—France. By Leitch Ritche. In three volumes. 8vo. London: Edward Bull. 1831.”, in Ralph Griffiths; George Edward Griffiths, editors, The Monthly Review, volume I (new and improved series), number II, London: G. Henderson, 2, Old Bailey, page 309:
- The mysterious bark, though rent and shattered, still held on with a death-grip to the bridge, and the starting and splinting timbers of the latter seemed to shrink and shriek with fear and agony.
1914, Leander Sylvester Keyser, A System of General Ethics:
- You might define obstinacy as holding on to small ideas or unworthy aims with a death-grip.
2005, Elizabeth Haydon, Elegy for a Lost Star:
- Until that night, the dynasty of the Dark Earth had held the nation in a death grip of control.
- The grip of something dead or dying.
- I gently tore the bloodied piece of paper out from her death grip.
1940, Victor Wolfgang von Hagen, Jungle in the Clouds:
- The death grip of the Umbrella Ant soldiers is so tenacious that the natives often use them to suture wounds.
- A grip that kills.
- The wolf held the chicken in a death grip until it stopped moving.
1912, Spencer Walpole, A History of England from the Conclusion of the Great War in 1815, volume IV, revised edition, London: Longmans, Green and Co., OCLC 500038473, page 280:
- At the outset Mahmoud commanded Mehemet to withdraw his forces and to lay his grievances before his Sultan. He might as well have ordered the lion to loose his death-grip on the roe.
1986 October 20, Boyce Rensberger, “Only 80,000 miles separate 2 stars locked in ‘death grip’ of newly found binary system”, in The Washington Post, page A3:
- Astronomers have discovered a double-star system in which the two members of the pair are just 80,000 miles apart — one-third the distance between Earth and the moon — and the smaller, locked into a “death grip,” zooms around the larger at the surprising rate of once every 11 minutes.
- A perilous situation or stalemate where failure or death is imminent.
- The armies came together in a death grip at the bottom of the valley
1888, John L. Smith, History of the Corn Exchange Regiment, Philadelphia, Pa., page 257:
- [O]ne Confederate in the death grip had seized the sharp edge of a huge rock, and with feet held fast in a cleft of the rock above, hung head downwards between the two.
1914, William Stearns Davis, A Day in Old Athens: A Picture of Athenian Life:
- They act as skirmishers before the actual battle: and while the hoplites are in the real death-grip they harass the foe as they can, and guard the camp.
- For usage examples of this term, see Citations:death grip.