drag·​net ˈdrag-ˌnet How to pronounce dragnet (audio)
: a net drawn along the bottom of a body of water
: a net used on the ground (as to capture small game)
: a network of measures for apprehension (as of criminals)

Example Sentences

Nine suspects were caught in the police dragnet.
Recent Examples on the Web Late Friday, Italian officials embarked on their own dragnet of assets—seizing two yachts of sanctioned Russian individuals and four villas, including two on exclusive Lake Como, near actor George Clooney’s residence. Nick Kostov And Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, 5 Mar. 2022 Cybercrime is a dragnet for Beijing to censor state criticism and block foreign news websites; it’s cited by officials in Iran who physically threaten and punish citizens like Masih Alinejad who publish a selfie or speak their mind online. Justin Sherman, Wired, 22 Oct. 2020 Any plant with more than 0.3 percent THC content per dry weight is officially considered by the authorities to be the drug marijuana, while plants below this threshold skate through the dragnet as hemp. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 July 2021 But caught in the dragnet were dozens of videos that translate Russian media into English, exposing how pro-Kremlin voices spread conspiracy theories and advocate for genocide. Jacob Mchangama, Time, 5 Dec. 2022 Palestinian authorities have decried the crackdown as collective punishment, and say children are increasingly caught in the dragnet. Shira Rubin, Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2022 Multiple studies have concluded that such a dragnet approach is ultimately an ineffective strategy for confiscating the guns, drugs, or other contraband that police seek in cars. David D. Kirkpatrick, The New Yorker, 28 Jan. 2023 Internet battles between protesters and the powers that be are heightened in China, where the internet is heavily censored and a surveillance dragnet sweeps up life online and off. Jody Rosen, New York Times, 21 Dec. 2022 Widespread human rights violations have allegedly followed Bukele’s dragnet – torture and ill treatment in detention, and arbitrary arrests as the police and army target low-income neighborhoods, according to a HRW report released on December 7. Tara John, CNN, 15 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dragnet was circa 1541

Dictionary Entries Near dragnet

Cite this Entry

“Dragnet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dragnet. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


drag·​net ˈdrag-ˌnet How to pronounce dragnet (audio)
: a net dragged along the bottom of a body of water
: a series of planned actions for catching a criminal

More from Merriam-Webster on dragnet

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Love It or Hate It

  • heart-fire
  • When asked about her blind date, Carol spoke for hours with vitriol.
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?