noun, often attributive
an·​chor | \ˈaŋ-kər \

Definition of anchor 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device usually of metal attached to a ship or boat by a cable and cast overboard to hold it in a particular place by means of a fluke that digs into the bottom

2 : a reliable or principal support : mainstay a quarterback who has been the anchor of the team's offense

3 : something that serves to hold an object firmly a bolt-and-nut cable anchor

4 : an object shaped like a ship's anchor

5 : an anchorman (see anchorman sense 2) or anchorwoman a TV news anchor

6 : the member of a team (such as a relay team) that competes last

7 : a large business (such as a department store) that attracts customers and other businesses to a shopping center or mall

8 mountaineering : a fixed object (such as a tree or a piton) to which a climber's rope is secured

at anchor

: being anchored a ship at anchor


anchored; anchoring\ -​k(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of anchor (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to hold in place in the water by an anchor anchor a ship

2 : to secure firmly : fix anchor a post in concrete

3 : to act or serve as an anchor for … it is she who is anchoring the rebuilding campaign …— Gray D. Boone anchoring the evening news

intransitive verb

1 : to cast anchor

2 : to become fixed

Illustration of anchor

Illustration of anchor


anchor 1: A yachtsman's: 1 ring, 2 stock, 3 shank, 4 bill, 5 fluke, 6 arm, 7 throat, 8 crown; B fluke; C grapnel; D plow; E mushroom

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from anchor


anchorless \ -​ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for anchor

Synonyms: Noun

anchorperson, newscaster

Synonyms: Verb

catch, clamp, fasten, fix, hitch, moor, secure, set

Antonyms: Verb

loose, loosen, unfasten, unfix, unloose, unloosen

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Examples of anchor in a Sentence


The ship dropped anchor in a secluded harbor. He described his wife as the emotional anchor of his life. a local bank that has been the financial anchor of the community


They anchored the ship in the bay. The ship anchored in the bay. a star quarterback who has anchored the team's offense for many years
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The War of 1812 is perhaps an odd choice as a historical anchor for our national hymn. Joss Fong, Vox, "A debate on the merits of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”," 4 July 2018 Photo: john macdougall/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images That reflects Germany’s position as an anchor in Europe. Richard Barley, WSJ, "Tariff Troubles for Germany Won’t Stay in Germany," 3 July 2018 Pirela joins Telemundo 31 after working as an anchor at Globovision and as a reporter at Televen, networks in Venezuela. Hal Boedeker,, "Telemundo 31 adding 2 multimedia journalists," 2 July 2018 Demek, a four-year starter and two-year captain, served as the anchor for the Vikings during their state championship run. Kyle Stackpole, Howard County Times, "Glenelg senior Anna Callahan seizes girls lacrosse Player of the Year honors," 12 June 2018 Along with its thrilling plot surrounding the heist of a multimillion-dollar necklace at the Met Gala and the cheeky characters, the music serves as an anchor that drives the film's intensity and humor. Bianca Gracie, Billboard, "How 'Ocean's 8' Composer Daniel Pemberton Captured the Series' 'Swagger' While Crafting His Own Sound," 11 June 2018 His aunt, Jill Aycock, attended the UA and worked as a TV anchor here. Michael Lev, azcentral, "Four-star QB Grant Gunnell's commitment 'a big splash' for Kevin Sumlin, Arizona Wildcats," 6 June 2018 In New York, Wallace and his CBS colleague Walter Cronkite had gone home for the night, but Joseph Benti, who had covered the primary returns, was at a bar and grill across from the CBS Broadcast Center, waiting for his shift as morning anchor. Stephen Battaglio,, "Robert Kennedy assassination: a time of terror, disbelief and sorrow, much of it live on TV," 4 June 2018 During their rebuild, the Braves kept first baseman Freddie Freeman as the anchor in the lineup and signed him through 2021. Matthew Defranks,, "Might the closest model for the Marlins be inside their division?," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Inside the Triennale di Milano now is a retrospective of the acclaimed Korean artist Haegue Yang anchored by Cittadella, or Citadel, an installation that invites visitors to step into an elaborate maze made up of 176 venetian blinds. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Inside the Interactive Maze Gripping the Milan Art World," 27 Sep. 2018 And now, mainstream pop culture is grabbing the broomstick and gifting us two new shows anchored by the modern, mighty witch this fall. Aimee Lutkin, Marie Claire, "Charmed, Sabrina, and the Return of the Dark Witch," 6 Sep. 2018 Charming Danville capably serves as the county seat, anchored by a traditional courthouse and a friendly old-fashioned town square lined with cafes, galleries, bakeries and boutique shops. Shelley Specchio, Indianapolis Star, "Discovering Indianapolis’ vibrant neighborhoods: Hendricks County," 13 July 2018 France yielded only two goals on its way to the ’98 title, anchored by a defense led by Thuram and the rock-solid Marcel Desailly, and a no-nonsense midfield paced by Deschamps and Christian Karembeu. Brian Straus,, "Le Bleuprint: France Follows Familiar World Cup Path in Reaching Final," 10 July 2018 Now, the company is building high-end apartments across Charlotte at places like the 36th Street light rail station in NoDa, as well as a new office tower uptown anchored by Ally Financial, near hotels and a Whole Foods. Ely Portillo, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte developer gears up for more growth with new Japanese ownership," 9 July 2018 But dismal king salmon sport fishing in the recent past has forced the Kenai operation to diversify away from trips that focus on those prized fish, which have long anchored the business. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Pretty devastating’: After years of poor king salmon runs, renowned Kenai River sport fishing community adjusts," 7 July 2018 Living areas include an open-plan living room and a spacious dining room anchored by a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace. Jack Flemming,, "‘Crash’ co-writer Bobby Moresco gets his price for renovated Toluca Lake home," 4 July 2018 For example, in May voters in the city of Nashville in Tennessee resoundingly defeated a $9 billion plan that would have built a regional transit network anchored by light rail. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, "Amazon second headquarters contest jumpstarts languishing transit, education projects," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anchor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of anchor


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for anchor


Middle English ancre, from Old English ancor, from Latin anchora, from Greek ankyra; akin to Old English anga hook — more at angle


see anchor entry 1

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Statistics for anchor

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anchor

The first known use of anchor was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for anchor



English Language Learners Definition of anchor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a heavy device that is attached to a boat or ship by a rope or chain and that is thrown into the water to hold the boat or ship in place

: a person or thing that provides strength and support

: a large store that attracts customers and other businesses to an area (such as a shopping mall)



English Language Learners Definition of anchor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to keep a ship or boat from moving by using an anchor

: to connect (something) to a solid base : to hold (something) firmly in place

: to be the strongest and most important part of (something)


an·​chor | \ˈaŋ-kər \

Kids Definition of anchor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a heavy device attached to a ship by a cable or chain and used to hold the ship in place when thrown overboard

2 : someone or something that provides strength and support He is the family's anchor.


anchored; anchoring

Kids Definition of anchor (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to hold or become held in place with an anchor The riverboat was anchored at a sandy beach below tall bluffs.— Janet Shaw, Meet Kirsten

2 : to fasten tightly The cables are anchored to the bridge.

an·​chor | \ˈaŋ-kər \
anchored; anchoring\ -​k(ə-​)riŋ \

Medical Definition of anchor 

: to relate psychologically to a point or frame of reference (as to a person, a situation, an object, or a conceptual scheme)

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Comments on anchor

What made you want to look up anchor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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