1. Grail A cup or plate that, according to medieval legend, was used by Jesus at the Last Supper and later became the object of many chivalric quests.
2. often Grail The object of a prolonged endeavor. In both senses also called Holy Grail.
[Middle English greal, from Old French graal, from Medieval Latin gradālis, flat dish, of unknown origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.