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[grap-nl] /ˈgræp nl/
a device consisting essentially of one or more hooks or clamps, for grasping or holding something; grapple; grappling iron.
a small anchor with three or more flukes, used for grappling or dragging or for anchoring a small boat, as a skiff.
Also called grapeline, graplin, grapline
[grap-lin] /ˈgræp lɪn/ (Show IPA)
Origin of grapnel
1325-75; Middle English grapnel(l), diminutive of Old French grapin, diminutive of grape hook, grape Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for grapnel
Historical Examples
  • In silence he helped the Capataz to get the grapnel on board.

  • They slept fairly and, at daybreak, got up the grapnel and hoisted the sail again.

  • To my great delight, over came the grapnel, nearly falling on our heads.

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • We thought we could get over this difficulty by wrapping the grapnel in cotton wool.

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • Rectus carried the rope, and I had the grapnel, wrapped in its cotton wool.

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • A grapnel was hove on to the rocks, and there she lay as snug as any on board could desire.

    The Three Midshipmen W.H.G. Kingston
  • Tony Weston hauled in the grapnel, and stowed it in the fore-sheets.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • Just as this distribution was made, the pirates cast their grapnel.

  • That which is bent to the grapnel by which a boat rides, now substituted by chain.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • grapnel,” was the reply; and Vince began to rub the small of his back softly.

    Cormorant Crag George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for grapnel


a device with a multiple hook at one end and attached to a rope, which is thrown or hooked over a firm mooring to secure an object attached to the other end of the rope
a light anchor for small boats
Word Origin
C14: from Old French grapin a little hook, from grape a hook; see grape
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
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Word Origin and History for grapnel

"small hook," late 14c., Anglo-French diminutive of grapon, from Old French grapil, grapin "hook," diminutive of grape "hook" (see grape). Earlier form was grapel (see grapple).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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