har·​poon | \ här-ˈpün How to pronounce harpoon (audio) \

Definition of harpoon

: a barbed spear or javelin used especially in hunting large fish or whales

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Other Words from harpoon

harpoon transitive verb
harpooner noun

Examples of harpoon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft test-fired a harpoon designed to clean up orbital garbage. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 10 May 2019 Jordan Dreyer, the vocalist of the post-hardcore quintet, harpoons the air with his entire body, while singing with a controlled anguish. Greta Moran, Teen Vogue, "The Culture of Sexual Harassment at Music Festivals Like Coachella Could Be Changing," 3 May 2019 The satellite will use a net and harpoon to try and clear up some of thousands of pieces of debris currently orbiting Earth. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Harpoon-Based Space Junk Capture System Is Getting Space Tested," 25 June 2018 The Makah people have throughout their history also harvested stranded whales such as this one, as well as taking to the sea to hunt whales by harpoon from canoes. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Whale killed by ship near Neah Bay now a harvest celebration as Makah Nation prepares feast," 24 Aug. 2018 Decorated with all sorts of nautical equipment, such as harpoons, diver outfits and helmets, a whale jaw bone and original paintings by Wolowiec. Shonda Talerico Dudlicek, Elgin Courier-News, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Port Edward in Algonquin," 7 July 2018 When the larvae find themselves in a stressful situation, like getting caught in an armpit or under a swimsuit, their harpoon-shooting cells are activated. National Geographic, "What's Giving Some Beachgoers Rashes? Get the Facts.," 28 June 2018 The large satellite will attempt to recapture the smaller satellites with a harpoon and a net. Andrea Leinfelder, Houston Chronicle, "Largest satellite to date deployed from International Space Station," 20 June 2018 Their findings, published Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology, verify the existence of a harpoon-like mechanism that scientists have been piecing together for decades. New York Times, "Using Harpoon-Like Appendages, Bacteria ‘Fish’ for New DNA," 14 June 2018

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

1625, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for harpoon

probably from Dutch harpoen, from Middle Dutch, from Old French harpon brooch, from harper to grapple

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Statistics for harpoon

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for harpoon

The first known use of harpoon was in 1625

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More Definitions for harpoon



English Language Learners Definition of harpoon

: a long weapon used especially for hunting large fish or whales


har·​poon | \ här-ˈpün How to pronounce harpoon (audio) \

Kids Definition of harpoon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a barbed spear used especially for hunting whales and large fish


harpooned; harpooning

Kids Definition of harpoon (Entry 2 of 2)

: to strike with a barbed spear


har·​poon | \ här-ˈpün How to pronounce harpoon (audio) \

Medical Definition of harpoon

: a medical instrument with a barbed head used for removing bits of living tissue for examination

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More from Merriam-Webster on harpoon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with harpoon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harpoon

Spanish Central: Translation of harpoon

Nglish: Translation of harpoon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harpoon

Comments on harpoon

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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