AskDefine | Define grapnel

Dictionary Definition



1 a tool consisting of several hooks for grasping and holding; often thrown with a rope [syn: grapple, grappler, grappling hook, grappling iron]
2 a light anchor for small boats [syn: grapnel anchor]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈgræpnəl/


  1. A small anchor, having more than two flukes, used for anchoring a small vessel
  2. A grappling iron


Extensive Definition

In grappling or wrestling the term hook refers to an arm or leg position designed to help control an opponent.
A grappling hook is a hook attached to a rope, designed to be thrown or projected a distance, where its hooks will engage with the target. Grappling hooks were originally used in naval warfare to catch the rigging of an enemy ship so that it could be drawn in and boarded. Later, grappling hooks were also used in rescue work or to assist in scaling walls.
The most common design consists of a central shaft with a hole at the base of the shaft, called an "eye" to attach the rope, and three equally spaced hooks at the end of the shaft, so arranged that at least one is likely to catch on some protuberance of the target. Some modern designs feature folding hooks to resist unwanted attachment. Most grappling hooks are thrown by hand, but some used in rescue work are propelled by compressed air or a rocket.

Grappling hooks in fiction

Since it is very hard to engineer any of these devices into a small and compact package, such grappling hooks are used mainly by fictional superheroes in comics (Batman), video games and films.
In certain games and movies, elaborate fictional versions appear, often referred to as a grappling gun. This usually consists of a launcher (sometimes resembling a gun), a small electric motor, and a rope cartridge with hook. The motor enables the hero to pull himself up (by wheeling the rope back to the launcher, while the hook is caught onto a solid anchor) or to drag objects and people.
The grappling hook became popular as a video game mechanism after the release of the Quake CTF (Capture the Flag) modification on October 2, 1996. This addition to Quake allowed players to fire "the grapple" at any surface. Once embedded in that surface, the grappling hook pulled players to that location. This mechanism allowed players to reach areas of the game level that would otherwise be inaccessible. The huge popularity of this "mod" resulted in the inclusion of both CTF modes and grappling hooks in many future games.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the grappling hook is a versatile new addition to the hero Link's arsenal of weaponry. Simply a rope with a tridentate metal claw at the end, it is primarily used to latch onto horizontal posts jutting out of cliffsides or walls in order to swing across large gaps. When latched onto these posts, the player can also climb the rope and stand on top of the post, offering a rugged method of ascending walls. While on a boat out at sea, the grappling hook becomes a crane used to haul treasure up from the ocean depths. In battle, the grappling hook can usefully snatch up key and restorative items held by one's enemies.
Moreover, a fictional variant of the grappling hook called the hookshot makes appearances in several The Legend of Zelda series games. This device is usually held in one hand, comprised of a coiled chain with a hook at its end, which most often takes the appearance of a tapered wedge. The chain can expand and retract, and when the hook latches onto various materials such as wood it either pulls the user towards the object or vice versa, depending on anchorage and differences in weight.
In Bionic Commando, a grappling hook replaced the ability to jump from standard platform games. This led to an unusual but highly popular gameplay style.
A grappling hook features prominently in the arsenal of most modern depictions of Batman and several James Bond movies.
Buzz Lightyear uses a grappling hook in the movie Toy Story 2 and the PC Game which was based on it. Woody, on the other hand, uses the retractable cord in his back as a lasso/grappling hook.
In the movie Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, a jewel thief gang uses a grappling hook to get to a museum with diamonds.
Tomb Raider Legend released Spring 2006 featured a magnetic grappling hook that had an electromagnetic head that attached to metallic objects.
In "The Simpsons game" Bartman can use grappling hook.
In Midway's Mortal Kombat fighting games, the character Mavado uses a pair of elastic ropes with hooks at the end, which are called "Grappling Hooks," for movement or attacks. Scorpion is quite famous for his similar device, though he uses a kunai attached to a rope, instead. In the essence of a grappling hook, it is essentially the same as he uses it to pull in enemies.
Green Arrow had a "Grappling Arrow"
Tomb Raider Anniversary released June 2007, had Lara Croft using a standard grappling hook. She jumped over thousand-foot-deep pits, throwing her grappling hook at various rings and objects.
  • Rorschach (from The Watchmen) uses the CO2 powered grappling hook that Nite Owl 2 gave him as both a tool and an improvised weapon.
  • In the movie Scarface a Colombian recruit uses a grappling hook to climb up Tony Montana mansion in an attempt to kill him.
Additionally Angel once used a grappling gun in a similar fashion as Batman to get into a building in the episode "She" of the first season of Angel. This is the only time he used one in the series.

See also

  • Grapple tool
  • Rope
  • Harpoon
  • Grapnel gun
  • Tractor beam (plot device in science fiction - may be used in a similar way as grappling hooks)
  • Treble hook (a type of fish hook with a similar design and appearance to a grappling hook.)
  • Batman (the most famous user of grappling hook)
  • Spider-Man (his web shooters are similar to the grappling hook in usage, though they are based on a different mechanism).
grapnel in German: Enterhaken
grapnel in Japanese: 鉤縄
grapnel in Finnish: Heittokoukku
grapnel in Dutch: Enterhaak
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