[ hahr-poon ]
/ hɑrˈpun /


a barbed, spearlike missile attached to a rope, and thrown by hand or shot from a gun, used for killing and capturing whales and large fish.
(initial capital letter)Military. a jet-powered, radar-guided U.S. Navy cruise missile with a high explosive warhead designed for use against surface ships and launchable from a surface vessel, submerged submarine, or aircraft.

verb (used with object)

to strike, catch, or kill with or as if with a harpoon.

Origin of harpoon

1590–1600; <Dutch harpoen ≪ Old French harpon a clasp, brooch, equivalent to harp- (<Latin harpē<Greek: hook) + -on diminutive suffix


har·poon·er, nounhar·poon·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for harpoon

British Dictionary definitions for harpoon

/ (hɑːˈpuːn) /


  1. a barbed missile attached to a long cord and hurled or fired from a gun when hunting whales, etc
  2. (as modifier)a harpoon gun


(tr) to spear with or as if with a harpoon

Derived forms of harpoon

harpooner or harpooneer, nounharpoon-like, adjective

Word Origin for harpoon

C17: probably from Dutch harpoen, from Old French harpon clasp, from harper to seize, perhaps of Scandinavian origin
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