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  1. a bag or other contrivance of strong thread or cord worked into an open, meshed fabric, for catching fish, birds, or other animals: a butterfly net.
  2. a piece of meshed fabric designed to serve a specific purpose, as to divide a court in racket games or protect against insects: a tennis net; a mosquito net.
  3. anything serving to catch or ensnare: a police net to trap the bank robber.
  4. a lacelike fabric with a uniform mesh of cotton, silk, rayon, nylon, etc., often forming the foundation of any of various laces.
  5. (in tennis, badminton, etc.) a ball that hits the net.
  6. Often nets. the goal in hockey or lacrosse.
  7. any network or reticulated system of filaments, lines, veins, or the like.
  8. any network containing computers and telecommunications equipment.
  9. the Net, the Internet.
  10. Mathematics. the abstraction, in topology, of a sequence; a map from a directed set to a given space.
  11. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Reticulum.
  12. Informal. a radio or television network.
verb (used with object), net·ted, net·ting.
  1. to cover, screen, or enclose with a net or netting: netting the bed to keep out mosquitoes.
  2. to take with a net: to net fish.
  3. to set or use nets in (a river, stream, etc.), as for catching fish.
  4. to catch or ensnare: to net a dangerous criminal.
  5. (in tennis, badminton, etc.) to hit (the ball) into the net.

Origin of net

before 900; Middle English net (noun), netten (v.), Old English net(t) (noun); cognate with Dutch, Old Norse net, Gothic nati, German Netz
Related formsnet·ta·ble, adjectivenet·like, adjective

Synonyms for net

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  1. remaining after deductions, as for charges or expenses (opposed to gross): net earnings.
  2. sold at a stated price with all parts and charges included and with all deductions having been made.
  3. final; totally conclusive: After all that work, what was the net result?
  4. (of weight) after deduction of tare, tret, or both.
  1. net income, profit, or the like.
verb (used with object), net·ted, net·ting.
  1. to gain or produce as clear profit.

Origin of net

1300–50; Middle English; variant of neat1
Related formsnet·ta·ble, adjective


  1. National Educational Television. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for net

Contemporary Examples of net

Historical Examples of net

British Dictionary definitions for net


  1. an openwork fabric of string, rope, wire, etc; meshRelated adjective: retiary
  2. a device made of net, used to protect or enclose things or to trap animals
    1. a thin light mesh fabric of cotton, nylon, or other fibre, used for curtains, dresses, etc
    2. (as modifier)net curtains
  3. a plan, strategy, etc, intended to trap or ensnarethe murderer slipped through the police net
  4. sport
    1. a strip of net that divides the playing area into two equal parts
    2. a shot that hits the net, whether or not it goes over
  5. the goal in soccer, hockey, etc
  6. (often plural) cricket
    1. a pitch surrounded by netting, used for practice
    2. a practice session in a net
  7. informal short for internet
  8. another word for network (def. 2)
verb nets, netting or netted
  1. (tr) to catch with or as if with a net; ensnare
  2. (tr) to shelter or surround with a net
  3. (intr) sport to score a goalRangers netted three times in seven minutes
  4. to make a net out of (rope, string, etc)
  5. (intr) to hit a shot into the net

Word Origin for net

Old English net; related to Gothic nati, Dutch net




  1. remaining after all deductions, as for taxes, expenses, losses, etcnet profit Compare gross (def. 2)
  2. (of weight) after deducting tare
  3. ultimate; final; conclusive (esp in the phrase net result)
  1. net income, profits, weight, etc
verb nets, netting or netted
  1. (tr) to yield or earn as clear profit

Word Origin for net

C14: clean, neat, from French net neat 1; related to Dutch net, German nett


the internet domain name for
  1. a company or organization
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 net

Old English net "netting, network, spider web, mesh used for capturing," also figuratively, "moral or mental snare or trap," from Proto-Germanic *natjan (cf. Old Saxon net, Old Norse, Dutch net, Swedish nät, Old High German nezzi, German Netz, Gothic nati "net"), originally "something knotted," from PIE *ned- "to twist, knot" (cf. Sanskrit nahyati "binds, ties," Latin nodus "knot," Old Irish nascim "I bind, oblige").


"remaining after deductions," 1510s, from earlier sense of "trim, elegant, clean, neat" (c.1300), from Old French net "clean, pure," from Latin nitere "to shine, look bright, glitter" (see neat). Meaning influenced by Italian netto "remaining after deductions." As a noun, 1910.


"to capture in a net," early 15c., from net (n.). Related: Netted; netting.


"to gain as a net sum," 1758, from net (adj.). Related: Netted; netting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

net in Culture


What remains after all deductions have been made. (Compare gross.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.