a device consisting essentially of one or more hooks or clamps, for grasping or holding something; grapple; grappling iron.
a small anchor with three or more flukes, used for grappling or dragging or for anchoring a small boat, as a skiff.
Also called grapeline, graplin, grapline [grap-lin] .

1325–75; Middle English grapnel(l), diminutive of Old French grapin, diminutive of grape hook, grape Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
grapnel (ˈɡræpnəl)
1.  a device with a multiple hook at one end and attached to a rope, which is thrown or hooked over a firm mooring to secure an object attached to the other end of the rope
2.  a light anchor for small boats
[C14: from Old French grapin a little hook, from grape a hook; see grape]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1373, Anglo-Fr. dim. of O.Fr. grapil "hook," from grape "hook" (see grape).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
They board from under the stern, out of sight of the bridge, by throwing a grapnel up to the rail and climbing up the rope.
In this method, the receiving aircraft trailed a long horizontal line with a grapnel at the end.
The use of a grapnel would only be required to locate a potential fault in buried sections of the route.
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