Definition of fetter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɛtə/


(usually fetters)
1A chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles: he lay bound with fetters of iron
More example sentences
  • Now a short chain led from my ankle fetters to an iron staple hammered into the floor.
  • He also announced a crackdown on bonded labor and said his government will ban indiscriminate use of fetters in prisons and while producing prisoners in courts.
  • Discipline was maintained by a free application of whips, fetters, stocks, manacles, chains and the kongo, an iron collar with a long beam.
shackles, manacles, handcuffs, irons, leg irons, chains, bonds;
tethers, ropes, restraints
informal cuffs, bracelets
archaic trammels, gyves, darbies, bilboes
1.1A restraint or check on someone’s freedom to act: the fetters of convention
More example sentences
  • They should be freed from the political fetters and given full freedom to act impartially.
  • It could make a person, an artist even, that hypothetical cipher of freedom from drab social fetters, wonder if she has been doing what she wanted all along.
  • There might be times when the tactics infringe individual freedoms such as the freedom to travel without fetter or freedoms of speech.


[with object]
1Restrain with chains or manacles, typically around the ankles: (as adjective fettered) a ragged and fettered prisoner
More example sentences
  • He has been, your Honour, conveyed back to the same strict custody, manacled and fettered.
  • She followed obediently, moving in ridiculously small steps because her ankles were fettered to her waist.
  • Although unshackled from the 15 kg iron chains that fettered them for three years, they are yet to come to terms with their freedom.
shackle, manacle, handcuff, clap in irons, put in chains, chain (up), bind, tie (up), tether, rope, hobble;
secure, restrain
informal cuff
rare enfetter, gyve
1.1Confine or restrict (someone): he was not fettered by tradition
More example sentences
  • Yes, it means having a nationality, and more often than not, a religion, and so on; all of these things which really fetter us I think.
  • If the freed slave was not fettered by this social contract (self-disciplined productive laborer and consumer), she was criminal.
  • Just a little woozy… sane enough, but of course, to spit out the entire chemistry of the substance that fettered us with its silken strands.
restrict, restrain, constrain, confine, limit;
hinder, hamper, impede, obstruct, handicap, hamstring, encumber, inhibit, check, curb, tie down;
tie someone's hands, cramp someone's style
literary trammel


Old English feter, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch veter 'a lace', from an Indo-European root shared by foot.

Words that rhyme with fetter

abetter, begetter, better, bettor, biretta, bruschetta, carburettor (US carburetor), debtor, feta, forgetter, getter, go-getter, Greta, Henrietta, letter, Loretta, mantelletta, operetta, petter, Quetta, setter, sinfonietta, sweater, upsetter, Valletta, vendetta, whetter

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fet¦ter

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