late 14c., "a fast hold, clutch, grasp," from gripe (v.). From c. 1600 as "cramp, pain in the bowels" (earlier of pangs of grief, etc., 1540s). Figurative sense of "a complaint" is by 1934.
c. 1200, "to clutch, seize firmly," from Old English gripan "grasp at, lay hold, attack, take, seek to get hold of," from Proto-Germanic *gripan (source also of Old Saxon gripan, Old Norse gripa, Dutch grijpen, Gothic greipan, Old High German grifan, German greifen "to seize"), from PIE root *ghreib- "to grip" (source also of Lithuanian griebiu, griebti "to seize"). Figurative sense of "complain, grouse" is first attested 1932, probably from earlier meaning "produce a gripping pain in the bowels" (c. 1600; compare belly-ache). Related: Griped; griping.
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