1777, "thing grabbed;" 1824, "act of grabbing, a sudden grasp or seizing" from grab (v.). Up for grabs attested from 1945 in jive talk.
"seize forcibly or roughly," 1580s, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grabben "to grab," from Proto-Germanic *grab-, *grap- (source also of Old English græppian "to seize," Old Saxon garva, Old High German garba "sheaf," literally "that which is gathered up together"), from PIE *ghrebh- (1) "to seize, reach" (source also of Sanskrit grbhnati "seizes," Old Persian grab- "seize" as possession or prisoner, Old Church Slavonic grabiti "to seize, rob," Lithuanian grebiu "to rake"). Sense of "to get by unscrupulous methods" was reinforced by grab game, a kind of swindle, attested from 1846. Related: Grabbed; grabbing.
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