hand·​cuff | \ ˈhan(d)-ˌkəf How to pronounce handcuff (audio) \

Definition of handcuff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a metal fastening that can be locked around a wrist and is usually connected by a chain or bar with another such fastening usually used in plural


handcuffed; handcuffing; handcuffs

Definition of handcuff (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to apply handcuffs to : manacle
2 : to hold in check : make ineffective or powerless handcuffed by strict regulations

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Synonyms & Antonyms for handcuff

Synonyms: Noun

band, bind, bond, bracelet, chain, cuff(s), fetter, irons, ligature, manacle(s), shackle

Synonyms: Verb

bind, chain, enchain, enfetter, fetter, gyve, manacle, pinion, shackle, trammel

Antonyms: Verb

unbind, unfetter, unshackle

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Examples of handcuff in a Sentence


the man reluctantly held out his wrists so the policeman could snap on handcuffs


wanted to take the trip, but was handcuffed by her responsibility to watch her ailing father the fear that the new mandatory, standardized tests will handcuff the state's teachers, who will have to specifically tailor their lesson plans for the test
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The mother, who implored the judge to sentence Williams to prison, wept when Synenberg announced her sentence and deputies placed Williams in handcuffs. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Judge slams ex-NFL player, Bedford football coach’s ‘victim blaming’ as she sentences him to prison for sexually abusing student," 15 July 2019 The women did not respond to their orders, prompting the officers to put handcuffs on each of them and usher them into the back of a police van. Brieanna J. Frank, azcentral, "3 arrested during protest that shut down Tempe's Mill Avenue bridge," 11 July 2019 The pills flew out of the pickup truck during the chase; the thieves ended in handcuffs. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Opioid bandits smash through Walgreens, lose loot and their freedom," 9 July 2019 Authorities interviewed both at the scene for 45 minutes and subsequently put Rypien in handcuffs. Scooby Axson, SI.com, "Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien Arrested On Domestic Violence Charge," 1 July 2019 The Trump Organization in an email said Eric Trump declined to press charges against the waitress, who was detained in handcuffs for about two hours before being released. John Byrne, chicagotribune.com, "Mayor calls for Aviary owners to ‘take appropriate action’ in Eric Trump spitting case; GoFundMe account taken offline," 27 June 2019 According to the report, Lolotai went to place Lawrence in handcuffs, and Lawrence pulled away and resisted. Mitchell Byars, The Denver Post, "Independent review backs Boulder police decision not to review use of force in Sammie Lawrence arrest," 25 June 2019 The man was placed in handcuffs and into the rear seat of the cruiser. cleveland.com, "Three youngsters inside vehicles involved in road rage incident: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 23 June 2019 Officers put the man in handcuffs and in the back of a police cruiser. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Houston man opens fire as firefighters try to help him, then tells police he buried body in backyard," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Someone driving by reportedly saw the scuffle got out of his car to help police handcuff Wegrzyn, Duarte said. Deborah Kadin, chicagotribune.com, "Police: Man accused of resisting arrest, criminal trespass outside state representative’s office," 19 July 2019 While the man was handcuffed, authorities said, Smirnoff lifted him into the air and then slammed him to the ground. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "Ex-Alabama officers gets federal prison time in assault of handcuffed man," 18 July 2019 Dosouqi sat handcuffed at the defense table next to attorney George Borges, wearing a red jail jumpsuit with a thick beard and mustache. Nico Savidge, The Mercury News, "Peninsula hills stabbings: Is Skyline murder suspect fit to stand trial?," 17 July 2019 Fox 19 Cincinnati Three police officers and the City of Cincinnati are being sued after a realtor and his client were held at a gunpoint, handcuffed and questioned while viewing a home in West Price Hill. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Lawsuit: Realtor, homebuyer viewing house illegally held by police after 911 call," 16 July 2019 In a video obtained by the Asian Law Caucus through a public records request and viewed by the Chronicle, an ICE agent is seen handcuffing Escobar-Lopez as a police officer looks on. Tatiana Sanchez, SFChronicle.com, "Undocumented immigrant reported by Daly City police to ICE, prompting outcry," 16 July 2019 That set off a heavy lobbying push by UMass officials, who warned that handcuffing their ability to raise costs for students could lead to deep cuts. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s no state budget in sight. And lawmakers just asked Baker for another extension.," 15 July 2019 At the hospital, both the complaint and the DOJ report say the boy was handcuffed with both hands behind his back when Williams asked for all medical personnel to leave the room. Jessica Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Jury orders former Baltimore cop who beat handcuffed, hospitalized 14-year-old to pay $100,000, lawyer says," 10 July 2019 The company, which has to spend money on a number of priorities, including an expansion of its 5G wireless network, has been financially handcuffed after amassing more than $180 billion in debt with the acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner Inc. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "AT&T considers selling regional sports networks to slash debt," 3 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of handcuff


1649, in the meaning defined above


1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for handcuff

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for handcuff

The first known use of handcuff was in 1649

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More Definitions for handcuff



English Language Learners Definition of handcuff

: to put handcuffs on (someone)


hand·​cuff | \ ˈhand-ˌkəf How to pronounce handcuff (audio) \

Kids Definition of handcuff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a metal ring that can be locked around a person's wrist usually used in pl.


handcuffed; handcuffing

Kids Definition of handcuff (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put handcuffs on

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More from Merriam-Webster on handcuff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with handcuff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for handcuff

Spanish Central: Translation of handcuff

Nglish: Translation of handcuff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of handcuff for Arabic Speakers

Comments on handcuff

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


something desired as essential

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