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[ra-pel, ruh-] /ræˈpɛl, rə-/
(in mountaineering) the act or method of moving down a steep incline or past an overhang by means of a double rope secured above and placed around the body, usually under the left thigh and over the right shoulder, and paid out gradually in the descent.
verb (used without object), rappelled, rappelling.
to descend by means of a rappel.
Origin of rappel
1930-35; < French: mountaineering term, literally, a recall. See repeal Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rappel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Since six o'clock in the morning D'Aurelles had had the rappel beaten in the central quarters, but in vain.

  • But no, he never noticed him no more than the tambour that beat the rappel.

  • At the same time I deposited at the "rappel" office a bracelet and earrings of gold, sent anonymously for the wounded by a woman.

  • Seeing that he was reading the rappel, I conversed “liberally.”

    Memoirs Charles Godfrey Leland
  • M. Louis Koch paid 25 francs for a copy of the rappel at the bazar in aid of the poor.

  • The rappel was being beaten at that moment for the fatal sortie.

  • Friday morning the 'rappel' was beat—always a disagreeable hint.

    Chats in the Book-Room Horace N. Pym
British Dictionary definitions for rappel


verb -pels, -pelling, -pelled
another word (esp US) for abseil
another word (esp US) for abseil
(formerly) a drumbeat to call soldiers to arms
Word Origin
C19: from French, from rappeler to call back, from Latin appellāre to summon
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 rappel

1931, "mountaineering technique for descending steep faces," from French rappel, literally "recall" (Old French rapel), from rapeler "to recall, summon" (see repeal (v.)). The same word had been borrowed earlier (1848) to mean "a drum roll to summon soldiers."


1957 in the mountaineering sense; see rappel (n.). Related: Rappeled; rappelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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