Definition of shackle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈʃak(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;
bonds, tethers, ropes, restraints
informal cuffs, bracelets
archaic darbies, gyves, bilboes
1.1A situation or factor that restrains or restricts someone or something: 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, trammels, restraints, constraints, straitjacket;
impediments, hindrances, obstacles, barriers, encumbrances, obstructions, checks, curbs;
ball and chain
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: the prisoner was shackled to the heavy steel chair in the centre of the room
More 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, put/clap in irons, handcuff
archaic gyve
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;
hamper, hinder, impede, obstruct, handicap, hamstring, encumber, inhibit, check, curb, tie down;
tie someone's hands, cramp someone's style
rare trammel


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

Line breaks: shackle

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