What Does Come to Grips Mean?

Come to Grips Meaning

Definition: To cope with; to manage a problem.

Origin of Come to Grips

This expression originated in the 1900s. It most likely is related to the definition of the word grip. This word means to grasp tightly. To grip something is similar to the expression to handle, which can also mean solving a problem.

Examples of Come to Grips

meaning of come to gripsIn the example below, a patient is asking her doctor about how much longer she has to live. The doctor just diagnosed the patient with a fatal illness.

Doctor: I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. This is a very rare disease, so it is understandable that you didn’t realize what it was earlier.

Patient: Well, it’s not your fault. Thank you for letting me know. What is your best estimate for how much time I have left?

Doctor: It’s hard to say. It’s possible that you have as many as six months left, but it may be less than that. It probably won’t be longer.

Patient: I see.

Doctor: Is there anything I can do for you to help you deal with this? It’s a lot to think about.

Patient: Thanks, but I think I just have to come to grips with this on my own. I’m going to go home and think about what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

define come to gripsThe next example involves an English professor and one of his students. This student failed the final exam.

Professor: Did you have a question for me?

Student: Yes, I wanted to ask you what I could do to raise my grade. Is there any extra credit?

Professor: I’m sorry, but there’s no extra credit this late in the semester. I offered extra credit for every other test, but you failed the final exam. The semester is over. I have just enough time to grade these tests before the deadline. I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t have waited so long.

Student: If I fail this class, it means I can’t graduate.

Professor: Again, I’m sorry. However, you’ll just have to come to grips with the fact that this is your own fault.

More Examples

This excerpt is about an athlete who dealt with an injury by thinking of a new way to perform his tasks.

  • Max Scherzer has come to grips with a finger injury — by coming up with a new, unusual grip for his fastball. –Denver Post

This is an excerpt about how local citizens need to accept an upsetting fact about their river.

  • In order to avoid crippling impacts to our shared regional economy, Colorado River water users across the West must come to grips with the limitations of the river’s supplies. This will require creative leadership, compromise, and new funding. –Denver Post


The phrase to come to grips with describes dealing with a problem directly.