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[grab] /græb/
verb (used with object), grabbed, grabbing.
to seize suddenly or quickly; snatch; clutch:
He grabbed me by the collar.
to take illegal possession of; seize forcibly or unscrupulously:
to grab land.
to obtain and consume quickly:
Let's grab a sandwich before going to the movie.
  1. to cause a reaction in; affect:
    How does my idea grab you?
  2. to arouse the interest or excitement of:
    The book was O.K., but it just didn't grab me.
verb (used without object), grabbed, grabbing.
to make a grasping or clutching motion (usually followed by at):
He grabbed frantically at the life preserver.
(of brakes, a clutch, etc.) to take hold suddenly or with a jolting motion; bind.
a sudden, quick grasp or snatch:
to make a grab at something.
seizure or acquisition by violent or unscrupulous means.
something that is grabbed.
a mechanical device for gripping objects.
the capacity to hold or adhere:
The glue was so old it had lost its grab.
up for grabs, Informal. available to anyone willing to expend the energy to get it:
The Republican nomination for mayor was up for grabs.
1580-90; cognate with Middle Dutch, Middle Low German grabben, Swedish grabba
Related forms
grabbable, adjective
ungrabbing, adjective
1. grasp, grip, catch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for grabbing
  • Meghan's writing has a way of grabbing your attention and spirit, taking both on the journey with her.
  • It's the art of going through a fast-food drive-thru and grabbing an ice cream cone from the top.
  • grabbing a cup of joe got a whole lot easier this year.
  • Without breaking his stride, he steps behind the pair, effortlessly grabbing their craniums and smashing them together.
  • Even if you're not the one playing, the constant barrage of oddball antics are instantly inviting and attention grabbing.
  • Shooting hoops after work, then navigating supermarket aisles grabbing stuff for dinner.
  • My fighter swoops left and right, dodging bullets and grabbing glowing capsules that give me extra weapons.
  • The networks needed to find some way to keep others from grabbing their shows-and their profits.
  • grabbing a blanket off the bed and using it as protection, you manage to turn the handle and open the door.
  • But the biggest thing is the grabbing of the testicles.
British Dictionary definitions for grabbing


verb grabs, grabbing, grabbed
to seize hold of (something)
(transitive) to seize illegally or unscrupulously
(transitive) to arrest; catch
(intransitive) (of a brake or clutch in a vehicle) to grip and release intermittently causing juddering
(transitive) (informal) to catch the attention or interest of; impress
the act or an instance of grabbing
a mechanical device for gripping objects, esp the hinged jaws of a mechanical excavator
something that is grabbed
(informal) up for grabs, available to be bought, claimed, or won
Derived Forms
grabber, noun
Word Origin
C16: probably from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch grabben; related to Swedish grabba, Sanskrit grbhnāti he seizes
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grabbing



1580s, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grabben "to grab," from Proto-Germanic *grab (cf. Old English græppian "to seize," Old Saxon garva, Old High German garba "sheaf," literally "that which is gathered up together"), from PIE *ghrebh- "to seize, reach" (cf. Sanskrit grbhnati "seizes," Old Persian grab- "seize" as possession or prisoner, Old Church Slavonic grabiti "to seize, rob," Lithuanian grebiu "to rake"). Sense of "to get by unscrupulous methods" reinforced by grab game, a kind of swindle, attested from 1846. Related: Grabbed; grabbing.


1777, "thing grabbed;" 1824, "act of grabbing," from grab (v.). Up for grabs attested from 1945 in jive talk.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grabbing



An arrest; bust, pinch: We will get credit for the grab, and we will also profit/ The only thing worse than no grab is a bad grab (1753+ Police)


To seize the admiration or attention of; impress: How does that grab you?/ to reflect on a whole lot of things that had been grabbing me (1966+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with grabbing
In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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