ab·​seil ˈab-ˌsāl How to pronounce abseil (audio)
abseiled; abseiling; abseils

intransitive verb

chiefly British
: rappel
abseil noun

Examples of abseil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The skull had to be excavated during a treacherous operation where workers had to abseil down 50 feet from the top and dangle on ropes. Michael Dorgan, Fox News, 12 Dec. 2023 Clad in black turtlenecks, bright red outdoor jackets, gray trousers, and hiking boots, William and Kate took turns participating in medical support exercises, a search dog rescue demonstration, and even abseiling. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Apr. 2023 In daring escapes, students abseiled down multi-story buildings to waiting motorcyclists or swam out through sewers. Time, 23 Jan. 2020 Others attempted daring escapes, crawling through underground sewerage systems or abseiling off a footbridge to make their way to waiting getaway vehicles below. Amy Gunia / Hong Kong, Time, 20 Nov. 2019 On a recent gusty day, dangling above the waves, mechanics abseiled down the 40-metre-long blades for routine maintenance. The Economist, 31 Aug. 2019 That was the febrile atmosphere on July 4th, when British marines abseiled onto the deck of the Grace 1 in Gibraltarian waters. The Economist, 22 Aug. 2019 Most people abseil from rock faces in the process of climbing, for instance. Raisa Bruner, Time, 23 Jan. 2018 Those drills included special forces abseiling down the front of a downtown skyscraper to deal with a hostage situation, heavily armed forces driving in to intercept a bus hijack, a car chase to apprehend an attacker. Paula Hancocks, CNN, 1 Nov. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'abseil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from German abseilen "to lower by a rope," (as a reflexive verb, "to descend by a rope"), verbal derivative from ab- "down, from" (going back to Old High German ab, aba, preposition) + Seil "rope," going back to Old High German seil, going back to Germanic *saila-, neuter noun, akin to Old Saxon sēl "rope," and with gender/stem variation, to Old English sāl, "rope," Old Norse seil, Gothic insailjan "to lower by rope"; Germanic *saila-, etc., a nominal derivative from Indo-European *seh2(i̯̯)- — more at of entry 1, sinew entry 1

First Known Use

1941, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of abseil was in 1941

Dictionary Entries Near abseil

Cite this Entry

“Abseil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abseil. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

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