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[grap-nl] /ˈgræp nl/
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] /ˈgræp lɪn/ (Show IPA)
Origin of grapnel
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for grapnel
Historical Examples
  • A boat's grapnel was likewise stolen from the watering party.

  • Tony Weston hauled in the grapnel, and stowed it in the fore-sheets.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • In three of them the cable was caught by the grapnel, and in the other the grapnel was fouled by the chain attached to it.

    The Story of the Atlantic Telegraph Henry M. (Henry Martyn) Field
  • Just as this distribution was made, the pirates cast their grapnel.

  • In silence he helped the Capataz to get the grapnel on board.

  • That which is bent to the grapnel by which a boat rides, now substituted by chain.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • A pyrotechnical combustible attached to a grapnel for adhering to and setting fire to ships.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • grapnel,” was the reply; and Vince began to rub the small of his back softly.

    Cormorant Crag George Manville Fenn
  • Another scheme was to fire a projectile formed like a grapnel.

    Inventions of the Great War A. Russell (Alexander Russell) Bond
  • Mike glanced at the rope and grapnel, and then back inquiringly at his companion.

    Cormorant Crag George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for grapnel


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
a light anchor for small boats
Word Origin
C14: from Old French grapin a little hook, from grape a hook; see grape
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grapnel

"small hook," late 14c., Anglo-French diminutive of grapon, from Old French grapil, grapin "hook," diminutive of grape "hook" (see grape). Earlier form was grapel (see grapple).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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