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to grasp at
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Grasp \Grasp\, v. i. To effect a grasp; to make the motion of grasping; to clutch; to struggle; to strive. [1913 Webster] As one that grasped And tugged for life and was by strength subdued. --Shak. [1913 Webster] To grasp at, to catch at; to try to seize; as, Alexander grasped at universal empire, [1913 Webster]