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grasp in the dark

To seek out a solution, meaning, or sense of purpose in a blind, aimless, or uncertain manner. Often used in the progressive tense. We've been grasping in the dark for a way to pay our mortgage, but I just don't see how we'll be able to afford it anymore. My recent breakup with Janice has left me grasping in the dark.
See also: dark, grasp

have a (good/solid/sound/etc.) grasp of/on (something)

To have a firm, clear understanding or determination of something. I hope everyone has a solid grasp of the material, as you'll be tested on it next week. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on English idioms, but I don't understand this one at all!
See also: grasp, have, of, on, solid, sound

get a (good/solid/sound/etc.) grasp of/on (something)

To attain a firm, clear understanding or determination of something. You will need to get a solid grasp of the material, as you'll all be tested on it next week. I'm trying to get a grasp on English, but I don't understand some of these idioms at all!
See also: get, grasp, of, on, solid, sound

grasp at a straw

To make a desperate attempt to salvage a bad situation. A: "But what about all those times I took the trash out when you hadn't even asked me to?" B: "That has nothing to do with why you're in trouble now, so stop grasping at a straw."
See also: grasp, straw

clutch at straws

Fig. to continue to seek solutions, ideas, or hopes that are insubstantial. When you talk of cashing in quick on your inventions, you are just clutching at straws. That is not a real solution to the problem. You are just clutching at straws.
See also: clutch, straw

grasp at someone or something

to try to seize someone or something. He grasped at the bar and held on tight. The beggar grasped at the pedestrian and lost his grip.
See also: grasp

grasp someone or something by something

to hold onto someone or something by something. He grasped his friend by the hand and pulled him to safety. Sharon grasped the dog by its collar and held on tight.
See also: grasp

*(solid) grasp of something

 and *(sound) grasp of something; *(good) grasp of something
Fig. a firm understanding of something. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) Try to get a grasp of the basic rules. You don't have a good grasp of the principles yet. John was unable to get a solid grasp of the methods used in his work, and we had to let him go.
See also: grasp, of

*within one's grasp

1. Lit. where one can grasp something with one's hand. (*Typically: be ~;, get ~; get something ~.) The rope was within his grasp, but he was too weak to reach for it.
2. . Fig. [for something] to be obtainable; [for a goal] to be almost won. (Does not involve grabbing or grasping. *Typically: be ~; get ~; get something ~.) Victory is within our grasp, so we must keep playing the game to win. Her goal is within her grasp at last.
See also: grasp, within

within someone's reach

 and within someone's grasp 
1. Lit. close enough to be grasped. The ball was almost within his reach!
2. Fig. almost in the possession of someone. My goals are almost within my reach, so I know I'll succeed. We almost had the contract within our grasp, but the deal fell through at the last minute.
See also: reach, within

get a fix on something

to understand something It's not easy to get a fix on this new era we've entered.
Usage notes: sometimes also used in the form have a fix on something: After reading that biography, I felt I really had a fix on Jefferson.
See also: fix, get, on

within reach

almost possible or available Everyone says agreement is within reach, but it's hard to believe. The price for the house was almost within reach, but a bit more than they could afford.
Related vocabulary: for the taking
See also: reach, within

grasp the nettle

  (British & Australian)
to take action immediately in order to deal with an unpleasant situation
Usage notes: A nettle is a plant which can sting if you touch it.
I've been putting off tackling the problem for too long and I think it's time to grasp the nettle.
See clutch at straws
See also: grasp

clutch/grasp at straws

1. to try any method, even those that are not likely to succeed, because you are in such a bad situation (usually in continuous tenses) He's hoping that this new treatment will help him but I think he's clutching at straws.
2. to try to find reasons to feel hopeful about a situation when there is no real cause for hope (usually in continuous tenses) She thinks he might still be interested because he calls her now and then but I think she's clutching at straws.
See also: clutch, straw

get a fix on

Also, have a fix on; get or have a handle on ; get or have a grasp of . Obtain (or have) a clear determination or understanding of something. For example, I was finally able to get a fix on the specifics of this problem, or No one in the press room had a handle on Balkan history, or Do you have a grasp of the situation? Similarly, give a fix means "provide a clear understanding," as in This briefing will give us a fix on the current situation. The usages with fix and handle are colloquialisms dating from the 1920s; those with grasp are more formal and date from the late 1600s.
See also: fix, get, on

grasp at straws

Also, clutch at straws. Make a desperate attempt at saving oneself. For example, He had lost the argument, but he kept grasping at straws, naming numerous previous cases that had little to do with this one . This metaphoric expression alludes to a drowning person trying to save himself by grabbing at flimsy reeds. First recorded in 1534, the term was used figuratively by the late 1600s.
See also: grasp, straw

have a grasp of

see under get a fix on.
See also: grasp, have, of

grasp at

To have a hold on something or take hold of something with the hands: Afraid of the steep drop-off, I grasped at the railing.
See also: grasp


at straws
To search in desperation for a solution to a difficulty.

grasp the nettle

To take on a difficult problem directly and energetically.
See also: grasp
References in periodicals archive ?
Caption: These juvenile seahorses can already grasp with their tails.
3: Customer now uses gun-side shoulder and whole upper body to push gun hand and frame forward, while support hand firmly grasps the slide as the frame runs under it until slide has reached full retraction.
1: Customer's gun hand firmly grasps the frame, trigger finger is straight and above the triggerguard, while the support hand firmly grasps slide with thumb forward.
The support hand grasp is different, with the thumb pointing downrange.
The programming samples included in the robotics development kit demonstrate a number of capabilities, including how to teach the robot to recognize and grasp objects and how to use the robot to create a map of the local environment that the robot can then use for autonomous navigation in the learned environment.
For example, the user can manually drive the robot, rotate the joints of robotic arm and grasp objects.
After devoting his attention, money, and time to his uninvited runaway niece instead of his wife, he fails to grasp why he might be being punished.
The question therefore: "Is the child ready maturationally" to roll over, grasp, creep, crawl, sit up, stand and walk.
Definition: Nominal understanding grasps sensible and/or imaginable patterns (or compounds and associations of sensible and/or imaginable patterns) merely as sensible and/or imaginable.
Definition: Explanatory understanding grasps terms, and connections between terms.
In lifting and ambulating the resident, nursing assistants have precious little to grasp in order to facilitate the lift and maneuver the resident.
Staff is still required to bend and reach to grasp the handles, which are set at the resident's hip level, thus leaving open the possibility for improper lifting technique and back strain.
Moreover, in certain populations of Australian Aborigines, men visiting from neighboring communities pledge their good intentions in a ceremony during which each presents his penis to a lineup of his male hosts, each of whom briefly grasps the genitalia of those men whom he trusts.
In contrast, female baboons' silence in the face of their lost infants' cries suggests that these adult monkeys fail to grasp that other individuals have thoughts and feelings, contends psychologist Drew Rendall of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.