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 fin whale was only really hunted in large numbers [after] the explosive harpoon was invented [in the mid-19th century]. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Archaeologists Unearth Hollowed-Out Whale Vertebra Containing Human Jawbone, Remains of Newborn Lambs," 8 Nov. 2019 Inside a blue-roofed building behind Qanirtuuq’s office, Mr. Jones pulls open wide drawers of exquisite objects yielded up by the tundra, from wooden masks and tattoo needles to bone harpoon bits and fishing weights. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "Will climate change force this Alaska village to relocate?," 1 July 2019 Fishermen also harvest bluefin using harpoons and rod-and-reel gear. Washington Post, "As bluefin recover, a new fight about how to fish for them," 25 Sep. 2019 Stafford worked to hook another line into the reptile, then Bellinger tried to jab its neck with a harpoon. Patrick Connolly, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida alligator hunters stalk reptiles with spears, harpoons, more during harvest window," 23 July 2018 Other proposals include giant magnets, harpoons, and nets to safely whittle down the growing debris cloud. Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, "Space junk is a huge problem—and it’s only getting bigger," 25 Apr. 2019 Aaron struck it with a homemade harpoon attached to a spool of venetian blind cord, but the crocodile dislodged the hook and disappeared underwater. Ngm Maps, National Geographic, "‘This photograph was the hardest I’ve ever had to make’," 1 Aug. 2019 At different times, Greenpeace activists darted through dangerous waters in small boats to prevent Japanese and Russian whalers from discharging their harpoons. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace leader who escaped 1985 sabotage bombing, dies at 63," 9 Aug. 2019 And if this doesn't work, then maybe the giant space harpoon will eliminate space junk. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Hey, Want to Watch This Satellite Melt?," 21 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for harpoon

Time Traveler

The first known use of harpoon was in 1625

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Statistics for harpoon

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Harpoon.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harpoon?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=h&file=harpoo01. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for harpoon


How to pronounce harpoon (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harpoon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with harpoon

Spanish Central: Translation of harpoon

Nglish: Translation of harpoon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harpoon

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