Intermediate+ Word of the Day: grip

grip (noun, verb) /grɪp/ LISTEN

A man gripping a weight

A grip is a firm grasp or hold or the power of holding. Figuratively, grip is also an intellectual hold or emotional control over a situation, as well as effectiveness when dealing or coping with something. A grip is also a particular way of holding hands, a handle on something, and a travel bag. As a verb, to grip means to hold something firmly and, figuratively, to hold somebody’s interest.

Example sentences

  • The horseman took a firm grip on the reins. (Reins are the cord you hold in your hands when you ride a horse.)
  • Some people think a weak grip when shaking hands is a sign of a weak character.
  • Lucy's grip of the subject is impressive.
  • It's good to have dreams, but you also need to keep a firm grip on reality if you want to achieve them.
  • Members of secret societies sometimes use special grips to recognize each other when shaking hands.
  • John packed all his stuff for the weekend in his grip.
  • The child is gripping his mother's hand tightly.
  • The audience was gripped by the speaker's words.

Words often used with grip

come to grips with: face and cope with a problem or difficulty. Example: “Her brother’s death hit her hard at first, but Julie is slowly coming to grips with it.”

get to grips with (mainly UK): gain a thorough understanding of something. Example: “Oliver’s new job is very challenging, but I’m sure he will get to grips with it in no time.”

have/get a grip on: have/get an understanding of something. Example: “Sally struggled to understand at first, but she has a grip on the situation now.”

get a grip (informal): pull yourself together, face something head on. Example: “I know you are nervous about your exam, but panicking won’t help. You need to get a grip!”

Did you know?

Traditional grip and matched grip are two different techniques used to hold drum sticks while playing percussion instruments. In the traditional or orthodox grip, each hand holds the stick differently, while in the matched or parallel grip, each hand holds its stick in the same way. Here’s a video of American drummer Steve Elliott Smith showing us the matched grip.

Other forms

gripper (noun)


Grip dates back to before the year 900, as the Old English verb grippan (to seize, grab, obtain) and later the Middle English verb grippen. The noun also dates back to before the year 900, in the form of the Old English nouns gripe (act of grasping, or power or ability to grasp) and gripa (handful), which later merged and combined both meanings. The meaning ‘handshake’ dates back to the late 18th century. It is related to the German Griff, as well as the English verb gripe, meaning ‘to clutch or seize firmly,’ and figuratively ‘to complain’ (the latter is from the 20th century).

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