Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[drag-net] /ˈdrægˌnɛt/
a net to be drawn along the bottom of a river, pond, etc., or along the ground, to catch fish, small game, etc.
a system or network for finding or catching someone, as a criminal wanted by the police.
Origin of dragnet
Middle English word dating back to 1535-45; See origin at drag, net1, dray Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for dragnet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had thrown out a dragnet of detectives and every suspicious character in the city was passing through it or landing in prison.

    The Southerner Thomas Dixon
  • Our luck is like water in a dragnet: you pull at it and it bulges, but when you've drawn it out it's empty!

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
  • "Mascola ran across our trammels this morning with a dragnet," the girl explained.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • He catches them in his net, and gathers them in his dragnet.

  • Another invalid—my secretary—one flounders in a dragnet of unfortunate circumstances.

    Diane of the Green Van Leona Dalrymple
British Dictionary definitions for dragnet


a heavy or weighted net used to scour the bottom of a pond, river, etc, as when searching for something
any system of coordinated efforts by police forces to track down wanted persons
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for dragnet

Old English drægnet, a net to drag the bottom of a body of water in fishing; see drag (v.) + net (n.). Figurative use is from 1640s; police sense attested by 1894.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for dragnet

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for dragnet

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for dragnet