1300–50; Middle English; see grope, -ing2

gropingly, adverb Unabridged


verb (used without object), groped, groping.
to feel about with the hands; feel one's way: I had to grope around in the darkness before I found the light switch.
to search blindly or uncertainly: He seemed to be groping for an answer to the question.
verb (used with object), groped, groping.
to seek by or as if by groping: to grope one's way up the dark stairs.
to touch or handle (someone) for sexual pleasure.
an act or instance of groping.
Slang. an act or instance of sexually fondling another person.

before 900; Middle English gropien, Old English grāpian, derivative of grāp grasp; akin to gripe, grasp

1. fumble, probe, fish. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
grope (ɡrəʊp)
vb (usually foll by for)
1.  to feel or search about uncertainly (for something) with the hands
2.  (intr; usually foll by for or after) to search uncertainly or with difficulty (for a solution, answer, etc)
3.  (tr) to find or make (one's way) by groping
4.  slang (tr) to feel or fondle the body of (someone) for sexual gratification
5.  the act of groping
[Old English grāpian; related to Old High German greifōn, Norwegian greipa; compare gripe]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. grapian "to feel about as one blind or in darkness," originally "to feel or handle," related to gripan "grasp at" (see gripe). Fig. sense is from early 14c. Indecent sense (marked as "obsolete" in OED) is from c.1300.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The cadets interviewed chose to see the groping incident through the prism of
  that philosophy.
For extra effect, hover over their desks while they are groping for an answer.
It is little wonder, given this, that people of goodwill are groping for a
  safer alternative.
Searching for that answer, physicists are groping toward a quantum theory of
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