dragnet

If you suddenly start noticing police officers around every corner, you might be watching a dragnet in progress. A dragnet is a coordinated attempt to catch a criminal.

Dragnet originally referred to a kind of net for catching fish. It can now also indicate a less literal type of net: one that catches crooks. Police may use a dragnet if they know a wanted criminal is in a certain neighborhood. When cops set up a dragnet, they may call in extra officers, fence off areas from civilians, and arm themselves heavily. This word became famous because of the TV show Dragnet, which featured Sergeant Joe Friday.

Definitions of dragnet
  1. noun
    a conical fishnet dragged through the water at great depths
    synonyms: trawl, trawl net
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    type of:
    fishing net, fishnet
    a net that will enclose fish when it is pulled in
  2. noun
    a system of coordinated measures for apprehending (criminals or other individuals)
    “caught in the police dragnet
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    type of:
    scheme, system
    a group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole
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