noun, often attributive
an·​chor | \ ˈaŋ-kər How to pronounce anchor (audio) \

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\ ˈaŋ-​k(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce anchoring (audio) \

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 \ ˈaŋ-​kər-​ləs How to pronounce anchorless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for anchor

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of anchor in a Sentence

Noun 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 Verb 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 Starting this morning, each of our anchors will reveal a clue about his/her costume. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Show Fans Have Strong Feelings About the Cast’s 2019 Halloween Costumes," 29 Oct. 2019 The Nats, already reeling from dull back-to-back losses on their home field, no longer had their trusty anchor to win a critical Game 5 of the World Series., "Imagine if Roger Clemens had suddenly pulled out of a World Series start for the Red Sox? Folks would have been baying at the moon, insisting that the Rocket was dodging another pressure situation.," 28 Oct. 2019 Last Sunday’s Fox News program Special Report, on the Tehran Conference of 1943 (about which their news anchor, Bret Baier, has just published a book), revisited the postwar division of Europe and the Cold War that followed for 45 years. Conrad Black, National Review, "Planning the Post-War World," 24 Oct. 2019 Tapper told the audience that his fellow news anchors get flak for simply reporting the news these days. Jeremy Barr, The Hollywood Reporter, "Seth Meyers on Hosting in the Fast-Moving Trump Era: "You Have to Be Agile"," 24 Oct. 2019 Strasburg’s public face ranges from wooden to laconic to occasional bursts of engaged reticence, and so the Nationals’ provocateurs are determined to wring joy out of their 6-foot-5, 230-pound anchor. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "'Embrace it': Stephen Strasburg's legendary postseason hits its apex with gritty Game 2 win," 24 Oct. 2019 In another project, experts claim to have identified an anchor from St. Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta. Fox News, "Ancient Greek treasures recovered from the wreck of Lord Elgin’s ship," 23 Oct. 2019 Fox opinion hosts are clashing with its news anchors. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Trump dodged one of the key questions about Ukraine — so this reporter kept asking," 3 Oct. 2019 Early in the trailer, Aniston’s character Alex Levy announces news of allegations against her longtime co-anchor Mitch Kessler, prompting Mitch to destroy his TV. Derek Lawrence,, "The Morning Show trailer is reminding everyone of The Office," 19 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the best explanation for Walnut Creek’s stylish culture is the high-end shopping center that anchors downtown. Flora Tsapovsky,, "Why is Walnut Creek the best-dressed spot in the Bay Area?," 6 Nov. 2019 The result has been a dynamic duo of pass-rushers who have anchored one of the nation’s best and most talented defensive lines, with the two combining for five of a possible seven SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors. Tom Green |, al, "The secret behind Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown’s quick hands and strip-sacks," 24 Oct. 2019 For community members and activists in Dallas and Fort Worth, major cities that together anchor what is known in the state as the Metroplex, the cases are emblematic of inequality for people of color in the criminal justice system. NBC News, "Dallas-Fort Worth have police shootings in common, but prosecutions may be worlds apart," 19 Oct. 2019 The warmth mostly owes to a persistent and dominant ridge of high pressure that anchored over the southwestern U.S. throughout most of September. Chris Bianchi, The Denver Post, "Colorado just recorded its hottest September on record," 19 Oct. 2019 The growth has been exponential, but there are certain pillars that have anchored each event. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Natasha Pickowicz Makes Fund-Raising for Planned Parenthood a Sweet Deal," 15 Oct. 2019 Neil Cavuto, who anchors the broadcast following Smith’s, looked shocked after his colleague made the announcement. Washington Post, "Shepard Smith leaves Fox News Channel," 12 Oct. 2019 There was something tangible that anchored Alien in a reality that people could connect to on that level. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Alien’s origin story chestbursts anew in stirring new documentary," 11 Oct. 2019 There were also problems aplenty for the sport that anchors the Olympic program over the final week of the games. Doping reared its head, as usual. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Next up, Tokyo: Track leaves Qatar still looking for a star," 7 Oct. 2019

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

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for anchor

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for anchor

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

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More Definitions for anchor


How to pronounce anchor (audio)

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 How to pronounce anchor (audio) \

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 How to pronounce anchor (audio) \
anchored; anchoring\ -​k(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce anchoring (audio) \

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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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