17 Idioms With Hold, Grasp, and Grab (Real Examples + Video)

Idioms are expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal meaning of the words used. This post will explain some common Idioms with Hold, Grasp, and Grab. You will find a well-researched list put together by a native speaker. (Just for you.)

  • Get a hold of (something)
  • Hold your horses
  • Hold your own
  • Hold your ground
  • Hold your tongue
  • Hold the fort
  • On hold
  • Take hold
  • Grasp at straws
  • Within one’s grasp
  • Out of one’s grasp
  • Grasp the nettle
  • Grab the bull by the horns
  • How does… grab you?
  • Grab the opportunity
  • Grab a bite to eat
  • Grab some shut-eye 
  • Grab your coat

Idioms are an important part of any language as they add color and depth to communication. Find many helpful expressions with real example sentences, plus helpful images and a video. Keep reading.

Idiom Words

The words Hold, Grasp, and Grab have several uses and meanings. They are commonly used as verbs but each has a noun form too. We can tell which version of the word is being used by the grammar pattern of the expression.

Remember that verbs will follow a subject and may be conjugated (changed to show a different verb tense.)
We are grasping at straws here.” – “We” is the subject of the sentence and “are grasping” is the present continuous tense of the verb GRASP.

Nouns will follow an article (A, An, or The) and maybe an adjective.
“We don’t have a good grasp of this yet.” – “a” is an article followed by the adjective “good” that modifies the NOUN grasp.

You will find their definitions, Idiom meanings, and example sentences in the next section.

Idioms with HOLD

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries lists 26 different definitions for the verb HOLD. Here are a few of the more common uses.

①  to have somebody/something in your hand, arms, etc.
“Liam was holding a big box when he walked in.”

② to put your hand on part of your body, usually because it hurts
“Rebecca was holding her arm after the tennis match. She was clearly in pain.”

③ to keep somebody/something in a particular position
“Our yoga teacher told the class to hold this position for 10 more seconds.” 

④ to keep something at the same level, rate, speed, etc.; to stay at the same level, rate, etc.
“In trading today the dollar held steady against the yen.”

hold_1 verb OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com 

Here are two definitions for the noun HOLD.

① the action of holding somebody/something; the way you are holding somebody/something
“He kept a firm hold of my hand and looked me in the eyes the first time we met. “

② influence, power or control over somebody/something
“The civil war was weakening the leader’s hold on the country.”

hold_2 noun OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com

Many of these expressions use the verb definitions ③ and ④.

Get a hold of – to make contact with someone, usually by phone or email.
“I’ve been trying to get a hold of you all day.”

Hold your horses – used to tell someone to wait or slow down.
Hold your horses, let’s think this through before we make a decision.”
“Don’t worry kids, we’re leaving soon but you need to hold your horses until the car is packed.” 

This Idiom can also be found here as part of my 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac blog post series here >>  Horse Idioms (21 Common Example Sentences PLUS Video) 

Hold your own – to manage to maintain a position of one’s own, to do as well as others.
“She held her own in the debate, even though her opponents were more experienced.”

Hold one’s ground/Stand one’s ground – to continue with your opinions or intentions when somebody is opposing you and wants you to change. SOURCE
“The boss tried to make many changes to Cassidy’s plan but she held her ground and the boss eventually accepted everything as it is.”

“Nine times out of ten if you hold your ground when a bully tries to intimidate you they will back down. Most bullies are really cowards deep inside.” 

Hold your tongue – to keep from speaking, often when one is angry or annoyed.
“I wanted to tell him off, but I held my tongue.”
“Rather than responding quickly out of anger, it’s often better to hold your tongue and wait until you have calmed down.” 

I wanted to tell him off, but I held my tongue.

Hold the fort – to take charge or responsibility for a situation in the absence of others.
“I’ll hold the fort here while you go and get some lunch.”
“I need to leave the store to get some supplies, can you hold the fort until I get back?” 

On hold – describe something that is being delayed or put aside for a period of time.
“My vacation plans are on hold until I finish this project.”

Take hold – to become established or widely accepted.
“The new trend is beginning to take hold among young people.”

Idioms with GRASP

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries lists 3 different definitions for the verb GRASP.

① to take a strong hold of somebody/something
“Allan grasped my hand, shook it with vigor, and smiled.”

② to understand something completely
“It took me a while to get a grasp of advanced calculus. 

③  to take an opportunity without hesitating and use it
“I grasped the chance to work in Asia for 6 months.”

grasp_1 verb OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com 

Here are two definitions for the noun GRASP.

① a person’s understanding of a subject or of difficult facts
“After 3 years of living in Sao Paulo, Ryan finally had a grasp on Portuguese.”

② the ability to get or achieve something
“I feel like the promotion to vice president is finally within my grasp.”

grasp_2 noun OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com  

You will see some of these expressions directly follow the meaning of GRASP paired with a verb of a preposition.

Get a grasp on something/Have a grasp on something – to understand something fully.
“I’m still trying to get a grasp on how this new software works.”

We can also use adjectives like good/solid/sound/etc. with get a grasp on something LINK
“I think I finally have a solid grasp on how to use the new software.”

Within one’s grasp – something that is close to being achieved or attained.
“The promotion was within her grasp, but she just missed out.” LINK

Grasp the nettle – to face and deal with a difficult situation.
“If you want to succeed in this business, you need to grasp the nettle and start making tough decisions.”
*I think this is a U.K. expression. I have never heard before researching this post. (I’m from Canada.)

Grasp at straws – to grasp or try to find a solution by grasping at anything that might help, when there are few options. It’s a sign of desperation.
“He was grasping at straws to try and come up with a solution to the problem.”

I like this Idiom. I did some research to find out where it came from. In modern times when we hear the word straw we think of drinking straws, small plastic tubes through which we drink a beverage. 
The word “straws” in this expression is talking about a thin kind of plant (called a reed) that grew beside rivers and is not strong.

He was grasping at straws to solve the problem.

This expression comes from a proverb in Thomas More’s “Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation” (1534) which says, “A drowning man will clutch at straws.” It is said that the “straw” in this case refers to the sort of thin reeds that grow by the side of a river.


Out of one’s grasp – something that is too difficult or impossible to achieve or attain.
“That dream job is out of my grasp because I don’t have the required qualifications.”

Grasp the concept – This idiom means to understand something or to comprehend it. It’s often used to tell someone that they have understood something or to encourage them to try to understand it.
“It took her a while to grasp the concept of how the machine worked, but once she understood it, she was able to operate it with ease.”

Grasp all, lose all A phrase warning that greediness is often accompanied by the potential for significant loss. SOURCE 

“He was so focused on getting the big promotion that he didn’t realize he was sacrificing his personal relationships. He lost sight of what is important. You know what they say, grasp all, lose all.”

Idioms with GRAB

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries lists 7 different definitions for the verb GRAB. Here are a few of the more common uses.

① to take or hold somebody/something with your hand suddenly or roughly
“Jason grabbed her hand and pulled her close.”

② to take advantage of an opportunity to do or have something
“My son will grab at any excuse to avoid tidying his room.”

③ to have or take something quickly, especially because you are in a hurry
“After work, I’ll grab a cab and meet you at the theater.”

grab_1 verb OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com

① Here is a definition for the noun GRAB.

a sudden attempt to take or hold somebody/something
“The thief pushed the woman and made a grab for her purse.” 

grab_2 noun OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com

The idioms below are all using the verb form of GRAB.

Grab the bull by the horns – This idiom means to face a problem or challenge head on. It’s often used to encourage someone to take action and not be afraid to tackle a difficult situation.
“Sometimes we just have to grab the bull by the horns and tackle a problem head-on.”

This Idiom can also be found here as part of my 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac blog post series here >> 16 Common Cow Idioms (REAL Examples and Video) 

Grab the opportunity – This idiom means to take advantage of a chance or to seize an opportunity. It’s often used to encourage someone to take advantage of a chance that may not come again.
“She knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and she decided to grab the opportunity before it passed.”

How does… grab you? (informal) used to ask somebody whether they are interested in something or in doing something SOURCE
“I’m thinking about ordering some pizzas for dinner. How does that grab you?

I’m thinking about ordering some pizzas for dinner. How does that grab you?

GRAB is also commonly used in place of GET. In these next examples, you can see they have the exact same meaning if you replace GRAB with GET.

Grab a bite to eat – This idiom means to have a quick meal or to eat something quickly. It’s often used to describe a quick lunch or a snack between meals.
“After a long day of hiking, they decided to grab a bite to eat at the nearby café before heading back to the campsite.”

Grab some shut-eye – This idiom means to get some sleep or to rest. It’s often used to describe a quick nap or a few hours of sleep.
“He was exhausted from a long day of work and knew he needed to grab some shut-eye before his West coast online meeting.”

Grab your coat – This idiom means to get ready to leave or to pack up and go. It’s often used to tell someone to get ready to go out or to leave somewhere.
“I’ll get the car from the garage. Everyone grab your coats and I’ll meet you out front.”

I hope my blog post helped you learn some new idioms that native speakers really use. If you can think of some idioms that I left out, please tell me in the comments!

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