from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An iron shaft with claws at one end, usually thrown by a rope and used for grasping and holding, especially one for drawing and holding an enemy ship alongside. Also called grapnel, grappling, grappling hook, grappling iron.
  • n. Nautical See grapnel.
  • n. The act of grappling.
  • n. A struggle or contest in which the participants attempt to clutch or grip each other.
  • n. A struggle for superiority or dominance.
  • transitive v. To seize and hold, as with a grapple.
  • transitive v. To seize firmly, as with the hands.
  • intransitive v. To hold onto something with or as if with a grapple.
  • intransitive v. To use a grapple or similar device, as for dragging.
  • intransitive v. To struggle, in or as if in wrestling: grappled with their consciences; grapple with the political realities of our time.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. The act of grappling.
  • n. A close hand-to-hand struggle.
  • v. To seize something and hold it firmly.
  • v. to ponder and intensely evaluate a problem; normally used with "with".
  • v. To use a grapple.
  • v. To wrestle or tussle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A seizing or seizure; close hug in contest; the wrestler's hold.
  • n.
  • n. An instrument, usually with hinged claws, for seizing and holding fast to an object; a grab.
  • n. A grappling iron.
  • intransitive v. To use a grapple; to contend in close fight; to attach one's self as if by a grapple, as in wrestling; to close; to seize one another.
  • transitive v. To seize; to lay fast hold of; to attack at close quarters: as, to grapple an antagonist.
  • transitive v. To fasten, as with a grapple; to fix; to join indissolubly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To seize or grasp with a grapple; lay fast hold on with mechanical appliances or with the hands: as, to grapple an antagonist.
  • Synonyms To gripe, grasp, catch, clutch, clasp.
  • To fasten on another, or on each other, as ships, by some mechanical means, as grappling-irons; seize another, or each other, in a close grip, as in wrestling; clinch: often used figuratively.
  • n. A hook or an iron instrument by which one thing, as a ship, fastens on another; a grapnel.
  • n. A clasping-hook for grasping a beam, used in suspending the blocks or hoisting apparatus of a hay-fork.
  • n. Large tongs with sharp points used for various purposes, as for lifting blocks of ice.
  • n. The clasp of a buckle.
  • n. A spring fish-hook.
  • n. A seizing or gripping; especially, a close hold in wrestling, and hence in any other contest; a close fight or encounter.
  • n. plural Small iron dogs, joined by a short chain, which are driven into logs near the end when skidding on mountains, so that several logs may be skidded by one horse at the same time. Also called chain-grapples, coupling-grab.
  • n. See skidding-tongs.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a dredging bucket with hinges like the shell of a clam
  • v. come to terms with
  • n. the act of engaging in close hand-to-hand combat
  • v. to grip or seize, as in a wrestling match
  • n. a tool consisting of several hooks for grasping and holding; often thrown with a rope


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English grapel, from Old French grapil, diminutive of grape, hook; see grape.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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 *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.


  • Ireland, which now faces a budget deficit equal to 32 percent of its economic output, has become a test case for how countries that have spent beyond their means - including the United States and Britain - grapple with massive deficits.

    Ireland to bail out 3 banks, costing billions and renewing fears over deficit

  • The future stories that remain grapple with current issues or have a contemporary flavor.

    Take her out, Daddy, she'll murder us all.

  • Bad example, but the grape-apple hybrid they sell at Walmart is referred to as grapple, which is completely unrelated to the serious mental or physical wrestling the original word connotes.

    Welder's helper Nomeclature

  • I shall again grapple with the foe that has thus bereaved me!

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • Complicating matters, there is another fruiting plant called the grapple the pronunciation is, in this case, homonymous.

    The Fruit Hunters

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It called a grapple, and it ` s a cross between a grape and an apple.

    CNN Transcript Sep 12, 2007

  • The claws are used in digging out ant-hills; but the beast has courage, and in a grapple is a rather unpleasant enemy, in spite of its toothless mouth, for it can strike a formidable blow with these claws.

    III. A Jaguar-Hunt on the Taquary

  • This can be used to break a grapple that an enemy currently has your partner in or it can be used to knock down the enemy for a ground melee attack.

    IGN Complete

  • The NRL and most of it's clubs not only have serious financial issues, the game in Australia is being shackled by poor attendances, the salary cap system, star players fleeing the continent for big money in Europe, wrestling on field (otherwise known as the grapple tackle) and, perhaps most significant of all, players 'indiscretions off the field. - Comments

  • At that point, you know, I was trying really hard to kind of grapple with narrative, and I think I reached a point where the nonsense lyric was not really working for me anymore.

    The Story Of R.E.M. Without The Greatest Hits


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Don't grapple with my grapple!

    November 23, 2009

  • Head text is black on the Word page.

    "Out rushed the gnome-like men pulling their grapple, and Connor thrust his body between them and the Princess, taking the fierce rays on his own flesh." — Startling Stories January, 1939.

    Yes, I'd be startled by gnome-like men pulling their grapple.

    November 23, 2009

  • my comment was not posted...

    November 23, 2009

  • I tasted a grapple today. It's an apple that tastes a bit like a concord grape. Actually, I found that it smells more like a grape than it tastes like one. Very delicious though.

    I just noticed that the very large word is now purple. I rather liked the blue...

    November 23, 2009

  • See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

    Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

    Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

    Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

    Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

    But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

    Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade.

    - William Shakespeare, 'Hamlet'.

    November 10, 2008

  • Apple-grapes hybrid.

    (Actually, a Californiansearchengine search tells me that someone else thought about it before me.)

    April 14, 2008