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Related to grasp: grasp reflex
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a (good/solid/sound/etc.) grasp of/on (something)
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!
a drowning man will grasp at a straw
proverb Someone who is desperate enough will try anything to help their situation, even if it is really of no help at all. A: "I heard Jared is going to a psychic to help him figure out how to salvage his marriage." B: "Wow. A drowning man will grasp at a straw, huh?"
clutch at straws
1. 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 clutching at straws."
2. To consider positive suggestions or thoughts in a bad situation. OK, you're just clutching at straws now, fantasizing about a potential buyer when your house has been on the market for months.
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!
grasp (someone or something) by (something)
To take hold of someone or something by gripping something in particular. The mama cat grasped her kitten by the scruff of its neck and carried it off. I grasped Peggy by the shoulders and guided her down the hallway.
grasp at (someone or something)
To attempt to hold onto or grip someone or something. I grasped at the dog, but she ran away from me. Liz and I grasped at the sides of the raft as we hit rough waters.
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."
grasp at straws
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 straws."
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.
grasp the bull by its/the horns
To approach, confront, or deal with a problem or difficult situation directly and with clear, confident action. I grasped the bull by its horns and confronted my manager about the blatant sexism in the office. I've been complaining about being out of work for too long—it's time to grasp the bull by the horns and go find a job!
grasp the nettle
To approach or begin a difficult or unpleasant task directly and with the appropriate amount of energy. I know you don't like disciplining employees, but you've just got to grasp the nettle.
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!
relinquish (one's) grasp on (something) (to someone or something)
To forfeit, turn over, or yield control of something (to another person, group, organization, etc.). She refused to relinquish her grasp on the company to someone who wasn't in the family. They were forced to relinquish their grasp on the land to the government. They will now relinquish their grasp on the senate following the results of the election.
relinquish (one's) grasp over (something) (to someone or something)
To forfeit, turn over, or yield control of something (to another person, group, organization, etc.). She refused to relinquish her grasp over the company to someone who wasn't in the family. They were forced to relinquish their grasp over the land to the government. They will now relinquish their grasp over the senate following the results of the election.
1. Literally, so close that one can or can nearly grasp it with one's hands. A possessive adjective or proper noun can be used between "within" and "grasp." I had to shimmy my chair over to the counter so the TV remote was within grasp. The ball was within his grasp as he dove into the air and stretched his arms out, but it slipped through his fingers at the last moment.
2. Very near to being obtainable or achievable. A possessive adjective or proper noun can be used between "within" and "grasp." The Super Bowl championship was within their grasp, when the quarterback slipped on the AstroTurf and fumbled the ball, allowing the other team to score a last-minute touchdown and win the game. This novel is a masterpiece, Sarah. I feel like the Booker Prize could be within grasp for you.
3. Very close to being apprehended. A possessive adjective or proper noun can be used between "within" and "grasp." Police have issued a statement that the fugitive is within their grasp, and that he should be in custody within 48 hours. The rogue agent was within grasp, but he managed to elude the CIA at the last moment.
Almost attainable. This phrase can be used both literally and figuratively. A possessive noun or pronoun can be used between "within" and "reach." Molly is on bed rest, so be sure to leave anything she’ll need within her reach. Studying will put your goal of getting an A in this class within reach.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
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.
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.
*(solid) grasp of somethingand *(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.
*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.
within someone's reachand 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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
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.
have a grasp of
see under get a fix on.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
grasp the nettlemainly BRITISH
COMMON If you grasp the nettle, you deal with a problem or unpleasant task quickly and in a determined way. I think you should grasp the nettle. Speak to your manager and make it clear you regret your mistake and are determined it will never happen again. European leaders have yet to grasp the nettle of labour-market reform. Note: If you grasp a nettle firmly, it is less likely to sting you than if you just touch it lightly.
clutch at strawsmainly BRITISH or
grasp at straws
1. If you clutch at straws or grasp at straws, you try to do something that is very unlikely to succeed because you are desperate or have tried everything else. This was a desperate speech, made by a man clutching at straws to retain his career. I was probably grasping at straws in a search for a cure, but I thought I would give the therapy a go.
2. If you clutch at straws or grasp at straws, you try to find hope in a situation where there is no reason to feel hope. By this time, Rosa's behaviour was extremely strange and we were all very concerned. I told myself that at least she still had a job, but I was clutching at straws. Note: This expression comes from the proverb a drowning man will clutch at a straw. People are still clinging to the hope that something will happen — but I think it's like a drowning man trying to clutch at a straw. Note: The image here is of a drowning person who is desperately trying to take hold of anything to save himself or herself, even a straw.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
get a fix on1 determine the position of an aircraft, ship, etc., by visual or radio bearings or astronomical observation. 2 assess or determine the nature or facts of; obtain a clear understanding of. informal
2 1993 Independent on Sunday You do not necessarily get a fix on life by fooling around with the fictive process.
grasp the nettletackle a difficulty boldly. British
This expression refers to a belief (recorded from the late 16th century onwards) enshrined in a rhyme quoted in Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock ( 1925 ): ‘If you gently touch a nettle it'll sting you for your pains; grasp it like a lad of mettle, an’ as soft as silk remains'.
1998 New Scientist The problem was that governments failed to grasp the nettle and scrap the system.
clutch (or grasp or catch) at strawsdo, say, or believe anything, however unlikely or inadequate, which seems to offer hope in a desperate situation.
This expression comes from the proverb a drowning man will clutch at a straw , which is recorded in various forms since the mid 16th century.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
grasp the ˈnettle(British English) deal with a difficult matter, firmly and with courage: The government will have to grasp the nettle. If they don’t, the traffic congestion is going to get out of control.This expression refers to the belief that if you touch a nettle (= a plant with leaves that sting) lightly, you will be hurt, but not if you take a firm hold if it.
within (easy) ˈreach (of something)close to something: The house is within easy reach of schools and sports facilities.
clutch/grasp at ˈstrawstry all possible means to find a solution or some hope in a difficult or unpleasant situation, even though this seems very unlikely: The doctors have told him that he has only 6 months to live, but he won’t accept it. He’s going to a new clinic in Switzerland next week, but he’s just clutching at straws.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
To search in desperation for a solution to a difficulty.
grasp the nettle
To take on a difficult problem directly and energetically.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
grasp at straws, to
To make a hopeless effort to save oneself. The term comes from the ancient image of a drowning man clutching at insubstantial reeds in an attempt to save himself, and it often was put as to catch or clutch at straws. It appeared in print as early as the sixteenth century and soon was regarded as a proverb. Indeed, Samuel Richardson so identifies it in Clarissa (1748): “A drowning man will catch at a straw, the proverb well says.” An earlier usage is “We do not as men redie to be drowned, catch at euery straw” (John Prime, Fruitful and Brief Discourse, 1583).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
- grasp of
- have a (good/solid/sound/etc.) grasp of/on (something)
- a (good/solid/sound/etc.) grasp of/on (something)
- have a grasp of
- get a (good/solid/sound/etc.) grasp of/on (something)
- have a clue
- not have a clue
- lay (one's) hands on (someone or something)
- lay hands on
- have a firm grip on (someone or something)