drag·​net | \ ˈdrag-ˌnet \

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

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 Following his completion of basic training, Xilong Zhu, 27, was detained by ICE officials after he was swept up in an immigration dragnet involving fake student visas. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump is following through on his ‘America First’ mantra. Why are some people so surprised?," 5 Apr. 2018 The subway turnstile — low enough to vault, ubiquitous enough to figure in the lives of millions of New Yorkers each day — has long served as a kind of dragnet for the Police Department. J. David Goodman, New York Times, "Turnstile Jumping Pits de Blasio Against Police Reformers," 7 Feb. 2018 Authorities launched a dragnet around the French capital on Sunday after a notorious criminal serving 25 years for murder used a helicopter Sunday to escape from a prison south of Paris. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Notorious French criminal escapes from prison using helicopter, sparks massive manhunt around Paris," 1 July 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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Dictionary Entries near dragnet


drag link



dragnet clause



Statistics for dragnet

Last Updated

11 Feb 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 \

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

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