hand·​cuff | \ˈhan(d)-ˌkəf \

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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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 Leissner guilty plea is the biggest black eye for a Goldman partner since 1989, when executive Robert Freeman was led off the trading floor in handcuffs, later convicted of a crime related to insider trading. Bradley Hope, WSJ, "Justice Department Charges Ex-Goldman Bankers in Malaysia 1MDB Scandal," 1 Nov. 2018 Just before Cosby was taken away in handcuffs on Tuesday to begin his three-to-10-year prison sentence, his lawyers alleged that prosecutors had played a doctored audio tape for the jury. Maryclaire Dale, The Seattle Times, "Bill Cosby behind bars: Appeal looming, lawsuits pending," 27 Sep. 2018 Cosby was denied bail and walked out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Bill Cosby Sentenced to 3 to 10 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault," 25 Sep. 2018 The Journal Sentinel reported that the teen was then told to drop to his knees, placed in handcuffs, and put in the police car for questioning. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "A Black Teen Riding in a Car With His Grandmother Was Handcuffed for Suspicion of Robbery," 6 Sep. 2018 The officer then put Ms. Pizer on the ground and continued to attempt placing her in handcuffs. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Game dev suffers broken teeth, skull fracture after trying to film arrest," 17 Aug. 2018 As the agent tried to put handcuffs on him, Miranda-Alonso threw back his elbows and ran, the complaint states. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Two arrested in separate assault attempts on Border Patrol agents," 12 May 2018 The first police officer approached him and started to put handcuffs on the suspect. Darran Simon And Jamiel Lynch, CNN, "Miami police officer charged with assault denies kicking suspect," 8 May 2018 The girlfriend showed the deputy a picture Johnston sent her of a handgun, handcuffs, a gold ICE belt badge and a Homeland Security ID card featuring Johnston’s picture and the DHS seal, court records said. Jared Gilmour, sacbee, "Everyone thought he was an ICE agent. His girlfriend stumbled into the truth, records say | The Sacramento Bee," 22 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Judge Mason ordered that Ji remain in custody for now, and U.S. Marshal’s agents handcuffed him and led him away. Sara Burnett, The Seattle Times, "Chinese man accused of spying, helping recruit U.S. engineers," 26 Sep. 2018 Video captured from police body cameras shows officers tied Johnson's feet, handcuffed him and carried him into a patrol car. Uriel J. Garcia, azcentral, "Robert Johnson, unarmed man beaten by Mesa police: 'I want Mesa to be held accountable.'," 7 June 2018 But then Archie sees Hiram, smiling, and in walks Sherif Minetta handcuffing Archie and accusing him of murdering the kid from shadow lake. refinery29.com, "Riverdale Season 2, Episode 22 Recap: "Brave New World"," 17 May 2018 The friend showed up just as six police officers handcuffed the two men and led them away. Christopher Chabris And Matthew Brown, WSJ, "Starbucks’s Troubles Can Be a Test for Anti-Bias Training: Does It Work?," 25 Apr. 2018 Instead, Rodriguez is accused of shackling his sleeping wife’s ankles, handcuffing her arms and stabbing her with a knife repeatedly for hours, according to WRAL, leaving the woman with over 20 stab wounds. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "Man shackled sleeping wife and kept stabbing her — then said he was attacked, Maryland police say | Miami Herald," 28 Mar. 2018 Epstein exclaims as he is handcuffed, as airport travelers watch the scene confusion. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Florida doctor has bizarre airport meltdown to 'prove a point' about police use of force: 'If I was a black person, I'd be terrified'," 18 Aug. 2018 O’Brien scuffled with officers who wanted to place him into protective custody, hitting one of them with a tree branch and injuring another by swinging his arm as he was being handcuffed. J.d. Capelouto, BostonGlobe.com, "Federal judge tosses case of man on ketamine who sued Bellingham police after wild melee at station," 29 June 2018 She was handcuffed to the wall next to her sister, the suit says. Max Londberg, kansascity, "KC-area bouncers wrongly imprisoned women, suit says. They settle for $1 million," 28 June 2018

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

24 Nov 2018

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 \

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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