grap·​nel | \ ˈgrap-nᵊl How to pronounce grapnel (audio) \

Definition of grapnel

: a small anchor with usually four or five flukes used especially to recover a sunken object or to anchor a small boat — see anchor illustration

First Known Use of grapnel

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for grapnel

Middle English grapenel, from Anglo-French grapinel, diminutive of Middle French grapin, diminutive of Old French grape hook, grape stalk, bunch of grapes — more at grape

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about grapnel

Statistics for grapnel

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grapnel

The first known use of grapnel was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on grapnel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grapnel

Spanish Central: Translation of grapnel

Nglish: Translation of grapnel for Spanish Speakers

Comments on grapnel

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


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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