When you wrestle with something — literally or figuratively — you grapple with it, or try to overcome it.

If you trace the word grapple back to its French roots, you’ll discover that the word originally referred to “a grape hook,” a pronged tool used to harvest grapes. If you think about how awkward it would be to harvest grapes, with the individual grapes ready to scatter everywhere, it makes sense that grapple eventually evolved to include a verb form used to describe struggling with something unruly. You might grapple with a budget shortfall, grapple for answers, grapple with a wrestling opponent, or grapple with a new technology.

Definitions of grapple
  1. verb

    come to terms with

    contend, cope, deal, get by, make do, make out, manage
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    extemporize, improvise

    manage in a makeshift way; do with whatever is at hand

    try to manage without help
    cut, hack

    be able to manage or manage successfully
    rub along, scrape along, scrape by, scratch along, squeak by, squeeze by

    manage one’s existence barely
    cope with, match, meet

    satisfy or fulfill
    type of:

    act, move

    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

  2. verb

    grip or seize, as in a wrestling match

    “the two men
    grappled with each other for several minutes”
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    type of:

    clutch, prehend, seize

    take hold of; grab

  3. noun

    a tool consisting of several hooks for grasping and holding; often thrown with a rope

    grapnel, grappler, grappling hook, grappling iron
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    crampon, crampoon

    a hinged pair of curved iron bars; used to raise heavy objects
    type of:


    an implement used in the practice of a vocation

  4. noun

    the act of engaging in close hand-to-hand combat

  5. noun

    a dredging bucket with hinges like the shell of a clam

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    type of:

    dredging bucket

    a bucket for lifting material from a channel or riverbed

Word Family