Definition of shackle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈSHak(ə)l/


1 (shackles) A pair of fetters connected together by a chain, used to fasten a prisoner’s wrists or ankles together.
Example sentences
  • He tugged on the chain connecting my shackles together
  • The boy was wearing a blue and black prisoner uniform with broken shackles on his wrists and feet.
  • Your client is not in shackles in the prison itself, only when being transported to and from…
chains, fetters, irons, leg irons, manacles, handcuffs;
informal cuffs, bracelets
1.1Used in reference to something that restrains or impedes: society is going to throw off the shackles of racism and colonialism
More example sentences
  • This stylistic approach may have been a ploy to attract a wider reading public, but historians should more often throw off the shackles of pedantry and learn to write and read history as literature.
  • With scarcity and stagnation cast aside, the economy could finally throw off the shackles of a crude good-for-good bartering system.
  • McElroy, who desperately wants to throw off the shackles of the drug world, has other plans.
restrictions, restraints, constraints, impediments, hindrances, obstacles, barriers, obstructions, checks, curbs
literary trammels
2A metal link, typically U-shaped, closed by a bolt, used to secure a chain or rope to something.
Example sentences
  • So was the shackle which fastened it to the halyard.
2.1A pivoted link connecting a spring in a vehicle’s suspension to the body of the vehicle.


[with object]
1Chain with shackles.
Example sentences
  • A believer in strict discipline, he preferred forms of punishment like putting a prisoner in stocks or shackling him to a ball and chain.
  • I do not think any prisoners in Australia are shackled.
  • The next day, the ship reached the shore of England and all the prisoners were handcuffed, shackled and forced into boats destined for the shore.
chain, fetter, manacle;
secure, tie (up), bind, tether, hobble;
put in chains, clap in irons, handcuff
1.1Restrain; limit: they seek to shackle the oil and gas companies by imposing new controls
More example sentences
  • And unlike the anti-marketing Masters Tournament, which limits ads, the USGA doesn't shackle the networks.
  • As a Hindu I am proud to subscribe to a creed that is free of the restrictive dogmas of holy writ that refuses to be shackled to the limitations of a single holy book.
  • I want to break free from the chains that shackle me to them.
restrain, restrict, limit, constrain, handicap, hamstring, hamper, hinder, impede, obstruct, inhibit, check, curb


Old English sc(e)acul 'fetter', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schakel 'link, coupling'.

Words that rhyme with shackle

cackle, crackle, grackle, hackle, jackal, mackle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: shack·le

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