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 But unlike the underwater knife and harpoon fights of James Bond in the 1965 Thunderball, these Army soldiers’ aim is not to fight an undersea enemy. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Waging war below the waves: Special Forces combat diver school is in session," 26 Dec. 2020 The harpoon mechanism meant to stick Philae to terra-not-quite-firma didn’t work, and poor Philae ended up bouncing around and landing under a dark cliff overhang, unable to deploy its solar panels and complete its tasks. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Doomed Philae lander accidentally did a science by denting the comet," 30 Oct. 2020 Last year, the team instructed RemoveDebris to fire its harpoon at a panel mounted on an extendable boom. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Read More," 21 Sep. 2020 Their proximity to the water’s surface makes the arapaimas vulnerable to human predators, who can easily target them with harpoons and spears. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 25 Feb. 2020 Later, visit the Itsanitaq Museum for a look at indigenous Arctic culture through the ages, marveling at hundreds of Inuit artifacts—from whalebone carvings and ancient harpoon heads to narwhal tusks. National Geographic, "Canadian Arctic Middle School Expedition," 20 Sep. 2019 Both partners deposit sperm into each other’s body after dueling with darts, but snails with a larger dart — and that harpoon frequently — gain a paternity boost, said Kazuki Kimura, a biologist at the Kyungpook National University in South Korea. Priyanka Runwal, New York Times, "As Mating Rituals Go, Valentine’s Day Isn’t So Bad," 14 Feb. 2020 After three days of struggle, Santiago harpoons a giant marlin, securing his greatest catch. Greg Luca, ExpressNews.com, "Incarnate Word bucking losing trend with string of dramatic victories," 21 Feb. 2020 Many people may think of whaling as a 19th-century industry in which men threw harpoons at their quarry by hand. Joe Roman, The Conversation, "Iceland didn’t hunt any whales in 2019 – and public appetite for whale meat is fading," 21 Jan. 2020

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

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Harpoon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harpoon. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on harpoon

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