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

Synonyms & Antonyms for anchor

Synonyms: Noun

anchorperson, newscaster, newsreader [chiefly British]

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

By The Numbers 40 Bob Ley, an anchor at ESPN since the network’s launch 40 years ago, has announced his retirement. Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post, "Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger is coming to Coors Field this weekend, try not to hug him," 27 June 2019 The San Diego Museum of Art’s own distinguished Spanish collection is an anchor. Christopher Knight,, "Review: 3 Velázquez paintings alone are reason to go, now, to this San Diego show," 26 June 2019 Since it’s been closed, Lew Wallace, once an anchor in the neighborhood, has been broken into several times and the Gary Fire Department has investigated at least two arson fires in the past three years. Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune, "Mom still looking for daughters’ Gary track trophies," 12 June 2019 Sinegal was an anchor at Ponderosa Stomp concerts and staple at Jazz Fest. Laura Testino,, "Louisiana musician Paul ‘Lil Buck’ Sinegal has died: report," 10 June 2019 About the place: Great cozy spot, with bar area and sunken dining room and nautical theme (an anchor sits out front, with models and photos of ships inside). Marc Bona,, "Jake’s on the Lake: Northeast Ohio’s best weekend brunches, breakfasts," 8 June 2019 The ouster of Sudan’s longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir, heralds a major reset of power in the African country of 40 million, an anchor in the U.S. war on terrorism and European efforts to contain migration. Matina Stevis-gridneff, WSJ, "Sudan’s Dictator Omar al-Bashir Ousted as North Africa Rocked by Upheaval," 11 Apr. 2019 Twitter’s enforcement of its rule has been criticized as uneven, with many users noting that Donald Trump had in 2015 posted the personal numbers of Sen. Lindsey Graham and Jorge Ramos, an anchor at Univision. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Twitter Suspends Accounts That Posted Trump Advisor Stephen Miller's Phone Number," 21 June 2018 Spacey faces a felony indecent assault and battery charge stemming from a July 2016 encounter with former WCVB-TV news anchor Heather Unruh’s son at Nantucket’s Club Car bar. Matt Rocheleau,, "Nantucket judge orders Kevin Spacey accuser’s father to explain missing cellphone in sex assault case," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Luke Hornung, Triton Central: The 6-2, 230-pound senior is expected to anchor a defense that was tough last season for a team that went 10-2 and lost a close game to Scecina in a Class 2A sectional title matchup. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Keep an eye on these Indy-area small school football standouts in 2019," 4 July 2019 Some of the most intense new coverage of this World Cup, however, has been in Britain, where the BBC has used the event to anchor a campaign to showcase women’s sports across its platforms. Tariq Panja, New York Times, "World Cup Reporters Find Huge Audiences and Familiar Challenges," 4 July 2019 Mission leader Markus Rex said that researchers plan to anchor the German icebreaker RV Polarstern to a large floe and set up camp on the ice as the sea freezes around them, conducting experiments throughout the Arctic winter. Washington Post, "Scientists to be trapped in ice for year-long Arctic mission," 3 July 2019 Boats are required to anchor outside the fireworks safety zone. Jeremy C. Fox,, "State Police outline security plan for the Fourth on the Esplanade," 1 July 2019 Mr Thorne, who is 40, tends to anchor his stories in families (sometimes unconventional ones), scrutinising the relationships between siblings or between parents and their children. The Economist, "Modern British television has found its Dickens," 29 June 2019 Compositionally, these songs are fairly spare—a synthesizer, a pulsing drum machine—which allows Yorke’s strange, mesmerizing voice, sometimes raw and sometimes processed, to anchor each piece. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Thom Yorke’s “Anima” Is His Best Solo Album," 28 June 2019 The largest recall in the company's history followed a public information campaign by Ikea and the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging consumers to anchor IKEA dressers to a wall. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Anguished parents say Ikea isn't doing enough to get deadly dressers out of homes," 27 June 2019 Sea Tea Comedy Theater continues to anchor the local improv/sketch comedy scene. Christopher Arnott,, "The Nine Muses Of Summer In Connecticut: A Divine Arts Preview," 24 June 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

8 Jul 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on anchor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with anchor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for anchor

Spanish Central: Translation of anchor

Nglish: Translation of anchor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of anchor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about anchor

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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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