Definition of trammel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtraməl/


1 (usually trammels) literary A restriction or impediment to someone’s freedom of action: we will forge our own future, free from the trammels of materialism
More example sentences
  • The most notable characteristic of Archimedes' mathematical work is its freedom from the trammels of traditional Greek mathematics.
  • It was the culmination of the sustained effort of many small entrepreneurs who had carved out a unique niche for offering hospitality without the trammels of the organised industry.
  • Wannabe ‘Americans’ had come to the New World to escape the trammels of established churches and feudalism which disfigured early modern Europe.
2 (also trammel net) A set-net consisting of three layers of netting, designed so that a fish entering through one of the large-meshed outer sections will push part of the finer-meshed central section through the large meshes on the further side, forming a pocket in which the fish is trapped.
Example sentences
  • Researchers lifted a trammel net full of large Asian carp from Swan Lake, a backwater lake of the Illinois River, in 2001.
  • With the aid of electrofishing gear and trammel nets, biologists collect sexually mature fish and haul them to Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery, Arizona, where they are spawned.
  • The well-equipped vessel was lost with a full suite of gear, including VHF, echo sounder, plotter, autopilot, gill and trammel nets and a complete toolset.
3An instrument consisting of a board with two grooves intersecting at right angles, in which the two ends of a beam compass can slide to draw an ellipse.
Early 18th century: so named because the motion of the beam is 'restricted' by the grooves
Example sentences
  • There are miter clamps, levels, plumb bobs, oil cans, planes, trammels, and so on.
  • As expected, Stanley tools were prominent but there was also a good selection of English tools as well as a nice assortment of planes, rules, trammels, saws, and levels by various makers.
  • Accessories for rules are presented in another chapter that describes attachments used with rules such as fences, protractors, gauges, trammels, and carrying cases.
3.1A beam compass.
4US A hook in a fireplace for a kettle.

verb (trammels, trammeling, trammeled ; British trammels, trammelling, trammelled)

[with object]
Deprive of freedom of action: those less trammeled by convention than himself
More example sentences
  • No Scottish Labour leader would dream of letting himself be trammelled by the kind of political constraints that hobbled Louis XIV.
  • The lack of evidence also trammelled the inquiry into the most serious allegations, those involving collusion between the British authorities and loyalist paramilitaries.
  • I think this is another paradigm of countries in transition, the bad roads left behind after being trammelled by the carts of history.
restrict, restrain, constrain, hamper, confine, hinder, handicap, obstruct, impede, hold back, tie down, hamstring, shackle, fetter


Late Middle English (sense 2 of the noun): from Old French tramail, from a medieval Latin variant of trimaculum, perhaps from Latin tri- 'three' + macula 'mesh'.

Words that rhyme with trammel

camel, enamel, entrammel, mammal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tram·mel

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