1A heavy metal ball secured by a chain to the leg of a prisoner to prevent escape.
- A believer in strict discipline, he preferred forms of punishment like putting a prisoner in stocks or shackling him to a ball and chain.
- They're bringing it back to the days when they made you wear stripes and now a chain, a ball and chain.
- For the walls of their new London headquarters, officials have forked out £4,877 for 77 wood carvings and paintings plus a sculpture of a ball and chain by convicts.
1.1Used to convey the idea that someone or something is a crippling encumbrance: the ball and chain of debt
More example sentences
- It's like a noose, it's like a ball and chain around the U.S. economy's foot or neck, or wherever the heck it is.
- Too often debt burden becomes a ball and chain for student borrowers after graduation.
- You're not here to keep me company, you're my ball and chain!
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