[ra-pel, ruh-]


(in mountaineering) the act or method of moving down a steep incline or past an overhang by means of a double rope secured above and placed around the body, usually under the left thigh and over the right shoulder, and paid out gradually in the descent.

verb (used without object), rap·pelled, rap·pel·ling.

to descend by means of a rappel.

Origin of rappel

1930–35; < French: mountaineering term, literally, a recall. See repeal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of rappelling

British Dictionary definitions for rappelling


verb -pels, -pelling or -pelled

another word (esp US) for abseil


another word (esp US) for abseil
(formerly) a drumbeat to call soldiers to arms

Word Origin for rappel

C19: from French, from rappeler to call back, from Latin appellāre to summon
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 rappelling



1931, "mountaineering technique for descending steep faces," from French rappel, literally "recall" (Old French rapel), from rapeler "to recall, summon" (see repeal (v.)). The same word had been borrowed earlier (1848) to mean "a drum roll to summon soldiers."



1957 in the mountaineering sense; see rappel (n.). Related: Rappeled; rappelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper