Definition of grapple in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɡrap(ə)l/


1 [no object] Engage in a close fight or struggle without weapons; wrestle: passers-by grappled with the man after the knife attack
More example sentences
  • The pair grappled and wrestled and Smith then left the matter, only for the brawl to erupt again shortly afterwards.
  • Here, the players grappled like bears and fought like tigers to stay on their feet.
  • I just always loved fighting and grappling, so I got in the ring.
wrestle, struggle, tussle;
brawl, fight, scuffle, clash, combat, battle;
close, engage
1.1 [with object] Seize hold of (someone): he grappled the young man around the throat
More example sentences
  • Ferguson punched Bishop in the face and grappled him to the floor, leaving the drug addict ‘battered and bruised’.
  • I felt the man approach me… He grappled me by the hips.
  • Suddenly she about-faced and grappled him into the undergrowth.
seize, grab, lay hold of, take hold of, grip, hold, grasp, clasp, clench, catch hold of, catch, lay one's hands on, get one's hands on
1.2 (grapple with) Struggle to deal with or overcome (a difficulty or challenge): other towns are still grappling with the problem
More example sentences
  • He is already grappling with the difficulty of converting diplomatic rhetoric into actual money.
  • The Prime Minister immediately set about grappling with the challenge of investigating the bombings.
  • In the course of telling aspirin's story Jeffrey engagingly grapples with challenging questions about the nature of innovation and the impact of commercial rivalry on scientific advancement.
tackle, confront, address oneself to, face, attend to, attack, get down to;
deal with, cope with, get/come to grips with;
concentrate on, focus on, apply oneself to, devote oneself to
informal get stuck into, get cracking on, get weaving on, have a crack at, have a go at, have a shot at, have a stab at
2 [with object] archaic Seize or hold with a grappling hook.
Example sentences
  • This said, they grappled him with more than hundred hooks.
  • The enemy being three to one grappled him contemptuously with iron hooks, and when the ships were fastened together the battle was fought as though it were on land.


1An act of grappling.
Example sentences
  • Over 40 separate maneuvers are available to The Hulk via his combat system, which consists of a number of punches, jumps, and grapples.
  • Over time, Kang learns new fighting techniques, including grapples and disarming, as well as stunt-driving maneuvers.
  • These grapple types are performed by pressing up, down, left or right in conjunction with an attack button, making for 16 grapples per wrestler.
1.1 informal A wrestling match.
Example sentences
  • ‘Nice,’ Anna retorted, not fully understanding Leanne's explanation of the grapple but pretending that she did anyway.
  • A brief grapple ensued, pushing and shoving aplenty all round, and I duly broke free, uninjured and unrobbed.
  • He likes nothing better than locking arms, hooking thumbs and hunkering down for a quick grapple on a table.
2An instrument for seizing hold of something; a grappling hook.
Example sentences
  • A combination of factors, including species, pile height and operator preference had led him to look for a new grapple, in this case one that didn't yet exist.
  • At a project in New Jersey, a One-Line System was used with a conventional, midsize, two-drum cable crane and a grapple to clean out debris from behind a dam.
  • It's another difficult wreck to shot, lying along the tide with a smooth keel exposed, so the grapple has little to catch on.



Example sentences
  • Typical aikido practice doesn't include the kind of fighting and short-range drills that are practiced by wrestlers and other grapplers.
  • In this film we have cast some of the very best grapplers and cage fighters, so you will see loads of grappling, take downs and chokes - a lot more than ever before.
  • He says the first thing wannabe grapplers are taught is how to fall properly, because safety is paramount, and they then progress onto a basic move called the collar and elbow tie-up, which is the move that starts most matches.


Middle English (as a noun denoting a grappling hook): from Old French grapil, from Provençal, diminutive of grapa 'hook', of Germanic origin; related to grape. The verb dates from the mid 16th century.

  • grape from Middle English:

    A grape was originally not an individual berry but the whole bunch. It can be traced back to Old French grap ‘hook’, specifically a vine hook used for harvesting grapes. Grapple (Middle English), first used to refer to a grappling hook, has a similar origin, and a grapefruit (early 19th century) is so called because it grows in clusters, like grapes. To hear something on the grapevine is to get information by rumour or by unofficial communication. The expression comes from the American Civil War, when news was said to be passed ‘by grapevine telegraph’. Bush telegraph (late 19th century), originally an Australian term, is based on a similar idea. The phrase sour grapes describes an attitude of pretending to despise something because you cannot have it yourself. The source is Aesop's fable of the fox and the grapes. In the story a fox tries to reach a bunch of juicy grapes hanging from a vine high above his head. After several attempts he gives up and stalks off, muttering that they were probably sour anyway.

Words that rhyme with grapple

apple, chapel, chappal, Chappell, dapple, scrapple

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: grap¦ple

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