Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A cup or plate that, according to medieval legend, was used by Jesus at the Last Supper and that later became the object of many chivalrous quests. Also called Holy Grail.
  • n. The object of a prolonged endeavor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The Holy Grail.
  • n. A book of offices in the Roman Catholic Church; a gradual.
  • n. Small particles of earth; gravel.
  • n. One of the small feathers of a hawk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A book of offices in the Roman Catholic Church; a gradual.
  • n. A broad, open dish; a chalice; -- only used of the Holy Grail.
  • n. Small particles of earth; gravel.
  • n. One of the small feathers of a hawk.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as gradual, 2.
  • n. In medieval legend, a cup or chalice, called more particularly the holy grail or sangreal, supposed to have been of emerald, used by Christ at the last supper, and in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the last drops of Christ's blood as he was taken from the cross.
  • n. Fine particles: in the quotation apparently referring to the fine beads or air-bubbles of mantling liquor.
  • n. Fine gravel; sand.
  • n. One of the smaller feathers of a hawk.
  • n. A single-cut file with one curved and one straight face, used by comb-makers.
  • In comb-making, to treat with a single-cut file or grail.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (legend) chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper
  • n. the object of any prolonged endeavor

Etymologies

Middle English greal, from Old French graal, from Medieval Latin gradālis, flat dish.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old French graal ("cup"), from Medieval Latin gradalis. (Wiktionary)
From Old French grael, ultimately from Latin graduale. (Wiktionary)
Origin uncertain; perhaps a reduced form of gravel. (Wiktionary)
Compare Old French graite slender. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Once it turns out that the "grail" is actually Mary

    Romantic Fear

  • The term "grail" comes from the Latin gradale, which meant a dish.

    American Chronicle

  • Our holy grail is the standardized test, even though these tests have been shown to be laughable in tracking student knowledge, biased towards those with more wealth and cultural capital, and destructive in narrowing and dumbing down the curriculum as schools focus on test prep to avoid closure.

    Rick Ayers: It's Time to Decriminalize Learning

  • OLEDS are far superior in brightness and in their compact nature. the holy grail is to make them last more than a few thousand hours. there is also a lot of hope for carbon nanotubes. — dave kliman

    Jumping on the L.E.D. Bandwagon - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

  • Then, at the beginning of Greenwitch, the grail is stolen back, so they don't have either of the things it took a whole book to get.

    SeeLight:

  • Notice what is in the center of the painting - a "grail" - i.e., chalice!

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • For instance, here's the "grail"-Verse/Response pair for Thursday Vespers in the Octave of Easter.

    Office Hymns of the Octave of Easter

  • TO ALL THOSE SAYING THIS FILM IS TOO SCI-FI - Watch Last Crusade again and for those who aren't Christians and don't believe, the idea of the holy grail is just as much fantasy and for that matter something no one believes - a cup that makes people melt is just as much scfi paranoia madness. nha on May 23, 2008 ok, I've read a lot of reviews here and I've had approximately 48 hours to get over the 12am screening I saw in London to watch my absolute fav movie franchise of all time throw a sequel at us.

    Sound Off: Indiana Jones 4 - What Did You Think? « FirstShowing.net

  • That’s all well and good, but the true grail is a therapeutic vaccine, one that would prompt the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells and only cancer cells, or that would consist of antibodies that do so.

    Could The Cure For Cancer Come From … Tobacco ?!? | Disinformation

  • ON FINDING THE HOLY GRAIL yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'ON FINDING THE HOLY GRAIL'; yahooBuzzArticleSummary = 'Article: The path of the grail is the path of love.

    ON FINDING THE HOLY GRAIL

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  • Arthurian

    February 17, 2008