Definition of grail in US English:



  • 1(in medieval legend) the cup or platter used by Jesus 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.

    • ‘The myth of the Holy Grail must be one of the most enduring of all human stories.’
    • ‘In the time of Arthur, the quest for the Grail was the highest spiritual pursuit.’
    • ‘Late in the twelfth century stories of the Holy Grail began to be written in France.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Grail contained a supremely powerful force, but before it could pass completely into his possession, he would have to suffer a final ordeal.’
    • ‘And what is King Arthur without Excalibur and the quest for the Holy Grail?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I always found the search for the Holy Grail - this cup that was used at the Last Supper - rather ludicrous.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was an illusion, or a myth, like the Holy Grail, but she searching for it all the same.’
    • ‘The team get very excited by the tale of Sir Lancelot and the Quest for the Holy Grail and decide to relive his adventures.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It tells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail.’
    ambition, aspiration, hope
    View synonyms
  • 2A thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after.

    ‘profit has become the holy grail’
    • ‘You know, he's the Holy Grail and the Holy Grail of course is world peace.’
    • ‘Success in the U.S. is the Holy Grail for most Canadian bands with hopes of a career in music.’
    • ‘For the past half century the Holy Grail of physics has been the search for a final Theory of Everything.’
    • ‘At the base of this corner, whose solid rock beckoned me like the Grail, a dozen saplings, all less than wrist size in diameter, spring directly from the only holds on the face.’


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