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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Videos showed police, clad in riot gear, using battering rams to enter properties and handcuff and drag out the occupants as crowds spilled into the streets. Los Angeles Times, "Activists wield bolt cutters in a tense L.A. neighborhood as poor families seize empty homes," 23 Dec. 2020 Carlson — wearing handcuffs on just one wrist — jumped up and began punching and spitting at Telford and the officer, slamming the dangling handcuff into Telford’s head. jsonline.com, "Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel.," 10 Dec. 2020 Till got one handcuff on the victim but was unable to get the second on and a scuffle ensued. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "2 Alabama police officers charged with felony assault in ‘brutal beating’," 30 Sep. 2020 Dobbins is a strong handcuff and/or speculative pick. Cory Bonini, USA TODAY, "Fantasy football 2020: Talented rookies ready to contribute," 27 Aug. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After the officers handcuff the man and stand him up, the video appears to show Undraitis swing in the direction of the man’s head. Madeline Buckley, chicagotribune.com, "Pace bus security guard charged in Harvey with punching handcuffed man in incident caught on viral video," 24 Dec. 2020 The OnScene TV video shows a man struggle to complete a sobriety test on a sidewalk before officers handcuff him and place him in the back of a police vehicle. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "DUI suspected in Serra Mesa crash that sent woman, son to hospital," 2 Dec. 2020 Officers were able to handcuff Cook and take him into custody without further incident. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Man facing capital murder trial now charged in 2018 killing of Justin Lett," 26 Nov. 2020 After multiple warnings, the officer crossed the street and attempted to handcuff her, at which point Mark Grisanti became enraged, stormed over to the officer and shoved him. Washington Post, "A shirtless New York Supreme Court judge shoved a police officer. He wasn’t charged.," 15 Oct. 2020 Importantly, going back to a gold standard would handcuff the Fed in its efforts to address changing economic conditions through interest rate policy. Michael Klein, The Conversation, "What’s the gold standard, and why does the US benefit from a dollar that isn’t tied to the value of a glittery hunk of metal?," 19 Nov. 2020 Around three minutes into the video, the officers forcibly pull Floyd from the car and handcuff him. Omar Jimenez And Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Two police body cameras capture the struggle leading to George Floyd's death," 10 Aug. 2020 The officers approach the boys, whose names were not released to the public, and begin to handcuff one of them, the footage shows. NBC News, "Tulsa police slammed after video shows handcuffing of 2 black teens for jaywalking," 11 June 2020 Key West police officers tried to handcuff the child before leading him to their patrol car, but the boy’s wrists were too thin. Tiffini Theisen, orlandosentinel.com, "8-year-old’s arrest at Florida school seen on body cam video; lawsuit planned," 5 Mar. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for handcuff

Time Traveler

The first known use of handcuff was in 1649

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Statistics for handcuff

Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Handcuff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handcuff. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on handcuff

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