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Two marines practising grappling techniques during a United States Marine Corps Martial Arts Program

Alternative forms[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English *grapplen ‎(to seize, lay hold of), from Old English *græpplian ‎(to seize) (compare Old English ġegræppian ‎(to seize)), from Proto-Germanic *graipilōną, *grabbalōną ‎(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) and grapsen, grapschen ‎(to seize, grasp, grabble). Influenced in some senses by grapple ‎(tool with claws or hooks, noun) (see below). See further at grasp.


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) Normally used with with: to ponder and intensely evaluate a problem.
    to grapple with one's conscience
  3. (transitive) To fasten, as with a grapple; to fix; to join indissolubly.
    • Hakluyt
      The gallies were grappled to the Centurion.
    • Shakespeare
      Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.
  4. (intransitive) To use a grapple.
  5. (intransitive) To wrestle or tussle.


Etymology 2[edit]

A grappling hook, which is a type of grapple
A grapple, or grapnel anchor

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 Frankish *krappō ‎(hook), from Proto-Germanic *krappô, *krappą ‎(hook), from Proto-Indo-European *grep- ‎(hook), *gremb- ‎(crooked, uneven), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- ‎(to turn, bend, twist). See further at grape.


grapple ‎(countable and uncountable, plural grapples)

  1. A tool with claws or hooks which is used to catch or hold something.
    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 grappling iron.
    2. (nautical) A grapnel ‎(type of anchor).
  2. A close hand-to-hand struggle.
  3. (uncountable) The act of grappling.