Few predicted, when China began to tentatively reform its economy in the late 1970s, that a gradual transition process would take hold and continue to move forward without some kind of traumatic rupture with the past.

What is the meant by "take hold" here?,

  • take (a) hold (from oxford)

to begin to have complete control over somebody/something; to become very strong

  • take hold (from the free dictionary)

to become established

I think "to become strong" something has to be there in the begining as per the oxford definition but as per free dictionary, "to establish" means nothing is there in the begining and then something starts.

1 Answer 1


to take hold

means "to establish", "to become a part of", "to become embedded", literally "to grab". It does not need to be there from the beginning.

Star Wars took hold of children's imaginations.

Star Wars was not there from the beginning of a child's life, but became a big factor in their thinking.

The Cultural Revolution took hold of China and killed off intellectual thinking for a generation.

  • it is not "take hold of", it is just "take hold"
    – Vikram
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 7:45

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