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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


Examples from the Web for grapnel

Historical Examples

  • 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

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