fetter

noun
fet·​ter | \ˈfe-tər \

Definition of fetter 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a chain or shackle for the feet

2 : something that confines : restraint

fetter

verb
fettered; fettering; fetters

Definition of fetter (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to put fetters on : shackle

2 : to restrain from motion, action, or progress

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for fetter

Verb

hamper, trammel, clog, fetter, shackle, manacle mean to hinder or impede in moving, progressing, or acting. hamper may imply the effect of any impeding or restraining influence. hampered the investigation by refusing to cooperate trammel suggests entangling by or confining within a net. rules that trammel the artist's creativity clog usually implies a slowing by something extraneous or encumbering. a court system clogged by frivolous suits fetter suggests a restraining so severe that freedom to move or progress is almost lost. a nation fettered by an antiquated class system shackle and manacle are stronger than fetter and suggest total loss of freedom. a mind shackled by stubborn prejudice a people manacled by tyranny

Did You Know?

Noun

While now used as a more general term for something that confines or restrains, "fetter" was originally applied specifically to a chain or shackle for the feet. Not surprisingly, the word's Old English ancestor, "feter," is etymologically shackled to "fōt," the Old English ancestor of "foot." Both words have a long history in the English language, dating back to the early 9th century, and are chained to Sanskrit "pad," Latin ped- and pes, Greek pod- and "pous," Gothic "fotus," Norse "fōtr," and Old High German fuoz.

Examples of fetter in a Sentence

Noun

a time-honored tradition is fine as long as it doesn't become a fetter that prevents us from trying something new claims that government regulations are unnecessary fetters that keep him from achieving his business goals

Verb

He found himself fettered by responsibilities. museum artifacts that serve as somber reminders of the days when slaves were fettered with irons
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. Eli Meixler, Time, "What Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump Said to Each Other When They First Met," 13 June 2018 In its latest phase, from the 1990s, Germany has reunified, become a normal country again and shed some of the fetters of its past. The Economist, "Germany is becoming more open and diverse," 14 Apr. 2018 Vern Thiessen’s adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s novel of emotional fetters and romantic entanglements finishes its run. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "What’s New in NYC Theater," 27 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Botany was also often fettered to expertise in gardening, another activity that fell within the realm of the feminine. Amandas Ong, The Atlantic, "Why Pop Culture Links Women and Killer Plants," 17 Apr. 2018 In many developing countries, girls face two starkly divergent paths: one fettered by gender inequality and cut short by early childbearing and the other offering personal fulfillment and economic improvement that benefit families and nations. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "The girls who took over a town in rural India," 15 Apr. 2018 While your job is to enforce the consistency that stylebooks aim for, you must not be fettered by it. John E. Mcintyre, baltimoresun.com, "Eight rules for editors," 25 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fetter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of fetter

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fetter

Noun

Middle English feter, from Old English; akin to Old English fōt foot

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fetter

Listen to Our Podcast about fetter

Dictionary Entries near fetter

fetor

fetoscope

fets

fetter

fetterbush

fettered cat

fetterless

Statistics for fetter

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fetter

The first known use of fetter was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fetter

fetter

verb

English Language Learners Definition of fetter

: to prevent (someone or something) from moving or acting freely

: to put chains around someone's feet to prevent motion

fetter

noun
fet·​ter | \ˈfe-tər \

Kids Definition of fetter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a chain for the feet

2 : something that holds back : restraint

fetter

verb
fettered; fettering

Kids Definition of fetter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to chain the feet of

2 : to keep from moving or acting freely He was fettered by many responsibilities.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fetter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fetter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fetter

Spanish Central: Translation of fetter

Nglish: Translation of fetter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fetter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on fetter

What made you want to look up fetter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!