This question already has an answer here:

I'm trying to figure out what could be the most appropriate verb to use to describe a child grabbing firmly something in a shop, using a methaphor:

Mark was holding/tightening/squeezing the toy like if that was a raft and he was adrift in the ocean.

Any seawolf out there :-) ? thanks a lot!

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, KarlG, Rory Alsop, 1006a, user067531 Feb 28 '18 at 23:07

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • What here is necessary? Must the word be specific for a child rather than for an adult? Or would a word that isn't limited by age work? Also, must it be for in a shop or can it be in a market or in a school room or anywhere at all? Also, must it be a metaphor itself or is the metaphor just a nice addition? Please edit your question to specify what is necessary and what is optional. – Mitch Feb 28 '18 at 22:02

Holding on for dear life.

To hold something very tightly, as if one's life depended on it. The hiker grabbed a root as she fell off the cliff, and had to hold on for dear life while she waiting for the rescue crew. When the dentist motioned us back into the examination room, my daughter clutched her chair and held on for dear life.


  • 1
    that looks a nice to hear expression! Thanks for sharing it! – Carla Feb 28 '18 at 10:13

Grasp is defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary as

Seize and hold firmly.

Grasping is firmer, tighter and is associated with more emotion than 'holding'

The same dictionary defines grip as

Take and keep a firm hold of; grasp tightly.

so gripping is, if anything, stronger and firmer than grasping since 'grip' is defined as 'grasp tightly'.

Either grasping or gripping would describe the child's action.



From https://www.thefreedictionary.com/vice-like

vice (vaɪs) or vise n (Tools) an appliance for holding an object while work is done upon it, usually having a pair of jaws vb (Mechanical Engineering) (tr) to grip (something) with or as if with a vice [C15: from Old French vis a screw, from Latin vītis vine, plant with spiralling tendrils (hence the later meaning)] ˈviceˌlike, ˈviseˌlike adj

Of course, the alternate meaning of "vice" (an undesirable habit) may add or detract from your sentence depending on context!


clinging (on) to

This seems appropriate when talking about a child treating something as overly important, because it can also refer to an emotional dependence:

1 Hold on tightly to


1.4 Be overly dependent on (someone) emotionally.

( From https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cling)



  1. To grasp and hold tightly: a child clutching a blanket.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.