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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), German grapsen, grapschen (to seize, grasp, grabble). Influenced in some senses by grapple (hook, noun) (see below). More 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) To ponder and intensely evaluate a problem; normally used with "with".
    • to grapple with one's conscience
  3. (intransitive) To use a grapple.
  4. (intransitive) To wrestle or tussle.
  5. (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.


Etymology 2[edit]

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). More at grape.


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.