Definition of grail in English:



  • 1(in medieval legend) the cup or platter used by Christ at the Last Supper, and in which Joseph of Arimathea received Christ's blood at the Cross. Quests for it undertaken by medieval knights are described in versions of the Arthurian legends written from the early 13th century onward.

    • ‘In the time of Arthur, the quest for the Grail was the highest spiritual pursuit.’
    • ‘The team get very excited by the tale of Sir Lancelot and the Quest for the Holy Grail and decide to relive his adventures.’
    • ‘The Grail itself, which began as the dish from which Jesus are at the Last Supper, and in which his blood was collected at the Crucifixion, has become the chalice of the Last Supper, and by implication the forerunner of the chalice of the Mass.’
    • ‘Arthur uses the Grail to help his knights focus on something good, rather than fighting amongst themselves.’
    • ‘It has been suggested an underground vault contains the Holy Grail, a cup from which Christ drank, and the Ark of the Covenant.’
    • ‘The part I am reading right now is about how Perceval winds up at the castle of the Fisher King, and sees the procession with the maiden carrying the Grail, but doesn't say anything or ask any questions.’
    • ‘And what is King Arthur without Excalibur and the quest for the Holy Grail?’
    • ‘The myth of the Holy Grail must be one of the most enduring of all human stories.’
    • ‘The Grail contained a supremely powerful force, but before it could pass completely into his possession, he would have to suffer a final ordeal.’
    • ‘It tells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail.’
    • ‘I always found the search for the Holy Grail - this cup that was used at the Last Supper - rather ludicrous.’
    • ‘Late in the twelfth century stories of the Holy Grail began to be written in France.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was an illusion, or a myth, like the Holy Grail, but she searching for it all the same.’
    ambition, aspiration, hope
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  • 2A thing which is eagerly pursued or sought after.

    ‘the enterprise society where profit at any cost has become the holy grail’
    • ‘The holy grail for all tobacco companies is the ‘safe cigarette’.’
    • ‘The holy grail for any magazine is hitting your target market bang on the nail.’
    • ‘The upshot is that there is no obvious genetic holy grail defining what it means to be human.’
    • ‘Neither doctor manages to find the holy grail of a cure, but their quest lays bare the foundations of contemporary thinking on the subject.’
    • ‘Japan, as the most style-conscious market on the planet, represents the holy grail in fashion terms.’
    • ‘Everyone was pursuing the holy grail of the young and trendy listener with the disposable income.’
    • ‘It promises travellers the holy grail of air travel - no more layovers.’
    • ‘A. It is the holy grail of modern menswear - an easy way of dressing that allows you to be comfortable and presentable at the same time.’
    • ‘In his stage show Ken tries to find out the meaning of life and continues his search for the holy grail of comedy, the state of mind in which everything is funny.’
    • ‘Rather than pursuing the holy grail of million-selling titles, the company is focused on achieving annual profitability.’
    • ‘Getting beyond the first stage of a major tournament is the holy grail.’
    • ‘At the heart of the fight between the two big parties is the holy grail of the public sector, those mystical ‘savings’.’
    • ‘Getting something for nothing is the holy grail of the consumer.’
    • ‘The holy grail for retail developers is turning shopping into a leisure pursuit.’
    • ‘It is the best hope we have of this much sought after holy grail - peace in our time.’
    • ‘After years of searching, I have found my holy grail: the ultimate pub quiz.’
    • ‘The fabled holy grail of gaming is letting the player do whatever they want - full interactivity.’
    • ‘Three Texan brothers have discovered the holy grail of paint jobs - one that can change colour completely at the flick of a switch.’
    • ‘Almost all of us are trying to find a third way, the holy grail of a work/life balance which means having a stimulating career and a family who still remember your name.’
    • ‘The last is culture - the holy grail of a community, where individuals feel strong levels of identification with both place and people.’
    ambition, aspiration, hope
    View synonyms


From Old French graal, from medieval Latin gradalis ‘dish’.