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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for handcuff

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of handcuff in a Sentence

Noun the man reluctantly held out his wrists so the policeman could snap on handcuffs Verb 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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And despite all that, Willie Calhoun still wound up in handcuffs. Dallas News, "Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun says it’s time to have ‘uncomfortable’ conversations about race," 4 June 2020 The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him. Christine Hauser, New York Times, "Video Shows California Boy, 14, Being Punched by Police Officer," 29 Apr. 2020 Simms removed her handcuffs, belly chain and ankle restraints before jumping out, according to the Sheriff's Office. Joshua Bowling, azcentral, "An Arizona inmate accused officers of sexual assault before she died. Here's what we know," 30 Dec. 2019 Images shared online of the two officers leading Neely using a rope tied to his handcuffs — reminiscent of pictures showing slaves in chains — sparked public outrage. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man led by rope says video of arrest made him feel shame," 5 Oct. 2019 He's then placed in handcuffs and put into a squad car. Fox News, "Video surfaces of Ahmaud Arbery being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in 2017," 21 May 2020 Associated Press Hawaii enforces quarantine rules with arrests Venturing out of a hotel room in Hawaii right now might land you in handcuffs. BostonGlobe.com, "Coronavirus patients to be allowed visitors in N.Y.," 19 May 2020 Video of the incident obtained by CNN shows a scuffle between a person and officers before that person is put in handcuffs while on the ground. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "A New York City police officer was stripped of his gun and badge after video of an arrest prompted an investigation," 5 May 2020 One video clip showed authorities handling a shirtless man in handcuffs. Scott Smith, Anchorage Daily News, "Venezuela says 2 Americans captured in failed invasion attempt," 5 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb About 3 minutes after being pulled out of the vehicle, officers handcuff Gattenby. Sarah Ravani, SFChronicle.com, "Video exclusive: Navy vet who died 8 days after Alameda arrest was pinned, tased multiple times," 24 June 2020 Brooks, 27, was shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. Time, "Rayshard Brooks Honored at Atlanta Funeral Inside Martin Luther King Jr.'s Former Church," 23 June 2020 Brooks, 27, was shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. BostonGlobe.com, "Future of Seattle’s protest zone uncertain as police promise to return after shootings," 23 June 2020 Brooks failed a sobriety test, and when police tried to handcuff him, an altercation broke out. Dakin Andone, CNN, "Rayshard Brooks' funeral will be held at the church where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached," 22 June 2020 Officers had a relatively calm conversation with Brooks before things rapidly turned violent when officers tried to handcuff him. Kate Brumback, Anchorage Daily News, "Atlanta police call out sick to protest charges in officer’s shooting of black man," 19 June 2020 Brooks failed a sobriety test and officers tried to handcuff him. Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA TODAY, "Third bullet in Rayshard Brooks shooting hit witness' SUV: 'My instincts told me to get down'," 19 June 2020 After conducting a sobriety test, which Brooks failed, the officers attempted to handcuff Brooks. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "Georgia Bureau of Investigations says it was 'not consulted' before charges filed in Rayshard Brooks case," 18 June 2020 Once officers attempted to handcuff the father of four, Brooks, who had been drinking, began to tussle with cops. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Atlanta Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks’s Death Turns Himself In," 18 June 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of handcuff


1649, in the meaning defined above


1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about handcuff

Time Traveler for handcuff

Time Traveler

The first known use of handcuff was in 1649

See more words from the same year

Statistics for handcuff

Last Updated

8 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Handcuff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handcuff. Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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