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 Austrian police arrested 14 people and searched 18 locations as part of a huge dragnet on Tuesday after a gunman killed four in a rampage in Vienna overnight. NBC News, "Police arrest 14 people after gunman kills four in Vienna," 3 Nov. 2020 The warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional, the ruling said. NBC News, "Russia reportedly grants NSA whistleblower Snowden permanent residency," 22 Oct. 2020 Four people were arrested Thursday night after Detroit police dodged gunshots from an assault rifle in two vehicles, launched a dragnet for the shooters and defused an armed standoff. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police arrest four people after dodging bullets in wild standoff," 16 Oct. 2020 Saira Hussain, an attorney at EFF, said such dragnet police monitoring could cause a chilling effect on future demonstrations. Megan Cassidy, SFChronicle.com, "Activists sue S.F., claiming police tapped surveillance cameras during George Floyd protests," 7 Oct. 2020 For men who lived in high-crime neighborhoods, always communities of color, the dragnet descended and never let up. ProPublica, "Over a Dozen Black and Latino Men Accused a Cop of Humiliating, Invasive Strip Searches. The NYPD Kept Promoting Him.," 10 Sep. 2020 And these dragnet searches can capture a lot of data. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Feds can’t ask Google for every phone in a 100-meter radius, court says," 2 Sep. 2020 Israel in March had its top security agency develop a way to capture almost every cellphone in the country in a digital dragnet. Washington Post, "Cellphone apps designed to track covid-19 spread struggle worldwide amid privacy concerns," 18 Aug. 2020 Analysts say the measure may act as a dragnet that could needlessly force some into quarantine. Washington Post, "Israel, Palestinians face new restrictions amid virus surge," 5 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for dragnet

Time Traveler

The first known use of dragnet was circa 1541

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Statistics for dragnet

Last Updated

17 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dragnet.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dragnet. Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for dragnet


How to pronounce dragnet (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on dragnet

Nglish: Translation of dragnet for Spanish Speakers

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