grab 1 (grăb)
v. grabbed, grab·bing, grabs
1. To take or grasp suddenly: grabbed the letter from me.
2. To capture or restrain; arrest.
3. To obtain or appropriate unscrupulously or forcibly: grab public funds; grab power.
4. To take hurriedly: grabbed my coat and hat and left.
5. Slang To capture the attention of: a plot that grabs the reader.
To make a grasping or snatching motion: We grabbed for the life raft.
a. A sudden attempt to grasp or hold something: made a grab for the railing.
b. A sudden, often unscrupulous taking control or ownership of something: "The imminence of death is reflected in every last power-stroke and grab of the great money bosses" (Dylan Thomas).
2. A mechanical device for gripping an object.
Relating or being an object or device that is grabbed or gripped for support or balance: installed a grab bar in the shower.
up for grabs Slang
Available for anyone to take or win: "The reputation of the ... king is still up for grabs" (William Zinsser).
[Obsolete Dutch or Low German grabben, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German; see ghrebh-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.