golden handcuffs

plural noun

Definition of golden handcuffs

: special benefits offered to an employee as an inducement to continue service

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Did You Know?

Chances are you've heard of a golden handshake, which is a particularly tempting severance agreement offered to an employee in an effort to induce the person to retire early. People started getting golden handshakes (by that name) around 1960; by 1976, English speakers had also coined the accompanying golden handcuffs to describe a situation in which someone is offered a special inducement to stay. The expression turns up often in quasi-literal uses, such as "slapped golden handcuffs on" or "a shiny new set of golden handcuffs."

Examples of golden handcuffs in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web If there exists a compensation package for a former first-round quarterback that lands somewhere between nine-figure golden handcuffs and bus fare out of town, N.F.L. front offices have yet to discover it. New York Times, "Quarterback Keeper? Jets, Browns and Bears Face Contract Decisions," 30 Dec. 2020 His team is contractually bound to the sport until 2020 thanks to a hefty pair of golden handcuffs. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "New hybrid rules for F1 have teams in a tizzy; Ferrari threatens to quit," 6 Nov. 2017

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

First Known Use of golden handcuffs

1964, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of golden handcuffs was in 1964

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Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Golden handcuffs.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for golden handcuffs

golden handcuffs


English Language Learners Definition of golden handcuffs

: the salary and benefits that stop a highly paid employee from choosing to leave a job

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