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

In fact, ending up in handcuffs appears to be an essential part of her plan. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "The activists hoping to cause chaos at Europe's busiest airport," 12 Sep. 2019 He was taken in handcuffs to a hospital, where he was administered life support. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Muslims hope judge's ruling against terror watch list ends harassment by feds," 9 Sep. 2019 Elhady was transported to and from the hospital in handcuffs. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "We’re Trapped in the Dystopian Aftermath of 9/11," 6 Sep. 2019 Clad in an orange detainee shirt and in handcuffs, Talbot, 43, was presented to reporters in Manila on Thursday. chicagotribune.com, "Ohio woman arrested at Manila airport, charged with human trafficking after trying to sneak baby out in a bag, officials say," 5 Sep. 2019 One of those arrested was Thomas Renckley, 31, who was led out of his Jacksonville home in handcuffs Thursday on suspicion of running a drug house. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "DEA crackdown across Florida nets 300 arrests, heroin, opioid pills and yacht," 1 Sep. 2019 Last year, an employee called police on two black men sitting in a downtown location, and they were led away in handcuffs. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "A man in Islamic dress told a Starbucks employee his name was Aziz. She put 'ISIS’ on the cup.," 30 Aug. 2019 Officers in full raid gear descended upon the apartment, taking both Williams and an unidentified woman away in handcuffs. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Suspect charged in deadly shooting at Birmingham’s Southtown public housing community," 27 Aug. 2019 He was placed in handcuffs and charged with assaulting an officer, his own blood all over his shirt. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Angry Genius of Miles Davis," 21 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The video cuts to the officer handcuffing a protesting Oyeneyin. Jordan Culver, USA TODAY, "'I'm just humiliated': Black homeowner in his underwear handcuffed by North Carolina police after false alarm," 27 Aug. 2019 Another officer showed up a short time later and handcuffed Pugnea, the report says. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "North Royalton man accused of trying to gouge officer’s eyes during attack faces attempted murder charge," 26 Aug. 2019 Officers sprang into action, handcuffed the would-be driver and held him for questioning. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, "Suburban police have been warning residents about leaving cars unlocked with key fobs inside. Then one was part of a tragedy.," 20 Aug. 2019 Video from a bystander shows some of those moments: As one officer handcuffed a man, another officer pointed a gun at a vehicle. Jason Hanna, CNN, "Phoenix police must now document each time they point their gun at someone," 20 Aug. 2019 This young black man was put on a leash while handcuffed between two mounted horses in Galveston, Texas. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "“This is 2019 and not 1819”: mounted police leading a black man by a rope sparks outrage," 19 Aug. 2019 Nyheim Hines works as a playable pass-catcher, but his ceiling isn’t elite even with his mindset to handcuff the Colts’ RBs. Shawn Childs, SI.com, "Fantasy Football: 14-Team Mock Draft; Christian McCaffrey First Pick," 18 Aug. 2019 Ultimately, the trooper was able to handcuff Utley, who was then taken to the State Police Middleborough barracks for booking, police said. Maria Lovato, BostonGlobe.com, "Dorchester man arrested on gun charges after allegedly texting and driving," 15 Aug. 2019 Police ordered the men out of the house at gunpoint and handcuffed both of them. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "City apologizes, settles for $151,000 with realtor and client over police response," 16 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

15 Sep 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

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