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
    synonyms: contend, cope, deal, get by, make do, make out, manage
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    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”
    synonyms: grip
    see moresee less
    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
    synonyms: grapnel, grappler, grappling hook, grappling iron
    see moresee less
    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
    synonyms: clamshell
    see moresee less
    type of:
    dredging bucket
    a bucket for lifting material from a channel or riverbed
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week