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See more synonyms for grapnel on Thesaurus.com
  1. a device consisting essentially of one or more hooks or clamps, for grasping or holding something; grapple; grappling iron.
  2. a small anchor with three or more flukes, used for grappling or dragging or for anchoring a small boat, as a skiff.
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Origin of grapnel

1325–75; Middle English grapnel(l), diminutive of Old French grapin, diminutive of grape hook, grape
Also called grapeline, grap·lin, grap·line [grap-lin] /ˈgræp lɪn/.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for grapnel

tentacle, paw, fingernail, mainstay, grasp, restraint, constraint, curve, talon, nipper, crook, hook, barb, spur, unguis, clapperclaw, fang, manus, grapnel, grappler

Examples from the Web for grapnel

Historical Examples of grapnel

  • In silence he helped the Capataz to get the grapnel on board.

    Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard

    Joseph Conrad

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for grapnel


  1. 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
  2. a light anchor for small boats
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Word Origin for grapnel

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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper