drag·​net | \ ˈdrag-ˌnet How to pronounce dragnet (audio) \

Definition of dragnet

1a : a net drawn along the bottom of a body of water
b : a net used on the ground (as to capture small game)
2 : a network of measures for apprehension (as of criminals)

Examples of dragnet in a Sentence

Nine suspects were caught in the police dragnet.

Recent Examples on the Web

The tactic could prove revelatory in cold case investigations, but invasive for those pulled into the DNA dragnet. Benjamin Oreskes, latimes.com, "False starts in search for Golden State Killer reveal the pitfalls of DNA testing," 4 May 2018 Photographs and an audio tape of crying children caught in the administration’s dragnet stoked new outrage this week, leading members of both parties to express concern. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "Governors Refuse to Send National Guard to Border, Citing Child Separation Practice," 19 June 2018 The man accused of killing a Tennessee sheriff’s deputy was captured Friday after a three-day dragnet, officials said. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Alleged Tennessee cop killer arrested after manhunt, police say," 2 Oct. 2018 Xinjiang, the tense region where most Uighurs live, has been enveloped in recent years in a vast dragnet of police surveillance which authorities insist is needed to root out separatism and Islamic extremism. Dake Kang, Fox News, "Critic of China's internments says Turkey may bar his family," 18 Sep. 2018 Similarly, in three dozen false arrest lawsuits, Americans caught in the ICE dragnet alleged that officers took them into custody on the basis of cursory computer searches. Joel Rubin, latimes.com, "ICE held an American man in custody for 1,273 days. He’s not the only one who had to prove his citizenship," 27 Apr. 2018 Another observatory, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole, uses neither air nor liquid water, but ice as its monopole dragnet. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 Despite growing alarm from the U.S. and the United Nations, China has maintained that Xinjiang’s vast dragnet of police surveillance is necessary for countering latent extremism and preserving stability. Yanan Wang, The Seattle Times, "China says interning Muslims brings them into ‘modern’ world," 16 Oct. 2018 Those measures have caused many privacy advocates who were concerned about the dragnet to suspect Signal wasn't the unnamed messaging app used in the case. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "New Signal privacy feature removes sender ID from metadata," 30 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dragnet.' 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 dragnet

circa 1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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drag link



dragnet clause



Statistics for dragnet

Last Updated

22 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dragnet

The first known use of dragnet was circa 1541

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More Definitions for dragnet



English Language Learners Definition of dragnet

: a series of actions that are done by the police in order to catch criminals
: a net that is pulled along the bottom of a river, lake, pond, etc., to search for or collect something


drag·​net | \ ˈdrag-ˌnet How to pronounce dragnet (audio) \

Kids Definition of dragnet

1 : a net that is pulled along the bottom of a body of water in order to catch or find something
2 : a series of actions by police for catching a criminal

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More from Merriam-Webster on dragnet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dragnet

Spanish Central: Translation of dragnet

Nglish: Translation of dragnet for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dragnet

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


having no equal

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