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

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 Body camera footage from the May 30 incident released by the Baltimore Police Department Friday paints a starkly different picture of what happened before the bystander, Lee Dotson, was placed in handcuffs. Lillian Reed, baltimoresun.com, "'Take your charge like a man.' Baltimore police release footage of cop's arrest of bystander.," 14 June 2019 The agents led Flores-Lopez , who remained in handcuffs, to their van. oregonlive.com, "Oregon sheriff violated federal law by holding woman in jail solely on immigration detainer, suit alleges," 11 June 2019 Ishtawi was removed from the back seat, taken to the ground and placed in handcuffs, police said. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Police: Hobart man fired shots into mobile homes," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To escape, Hopper handcuffs one of the Russian scientists to his wrist and runs off with Joyce, dodging Grigori’s bullets. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "R29 Binge Club: Stranger Things Season 3," 5 July 2019 Oakland starter Brett Anderson handcuffed them, limiting them to one baserunner through four innings and not allowing a hit until Andrelton Simmons’ leadoff single in the fifth. Maria Torres, latimes.com, "Tyler Skaggs labors as Angels are shut out by Athletics," 29 June 2019 The officer handcuffs Nkemdiche and takes him to the back of the police vehicle. Brieanna J. Frank, azcentral, "Body-camera footage shows arrest of Arizona Cardinals' Robert Nkemdiche," 28 June 2019 Now, someone accused of a Class A or B misdemeanor is arrested, handcuffed, taken to jail and booked. Emilie Eaton, ExpressNews.com, "Starting Monday, people caught with small amounts of pot in San Antonio won’t have to go to jail," 28 June 2019 As other law enforcement arrived, officers handcuffed Baker. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Family of man killed during fight with Aurora police considering lawsuit; body camera footage shows extensive fight for the first time," 25 June 2019 Police handcuffed the man and placed him in a cruiser. Bob Sandrick, cleveland.com, "Man, boy fight each other on Wallace Drive in Berea; drunk man tries to pick fight with Berea police," 21 June 2019 Federal agents handcuffed Clyde and pulled on blue latex gloves before rolling him onto his back and removing his vest and shirt to check for bullet wounds. Jennifer Emily, Dallas News, "Family of Dallas courthouse shooter Brian Clyde believes he wanted to be killed," 19 June 2019 One of Houdini’s most famous tricks was escaping, handcuffed, from a box that was dumped into New York’s East River in 1912. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Magician Performing Houdini-Inspired Trick in Indian River Is Missing and Feared Dead," 17 June 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

7 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

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