strait·​jack·​et | \ ˈstrāt-ˌja-kət How to pronounce straitjacket (audio) \
variants: or less commonly straightjacket

Definition of straitjacket

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a cover or overgarment of strong material (such as canvas) used to bind the body and especially the arms closely in restraining a violent prisoner or patient
2 : something that restricts or confines like a straitjacket


variants: or less commonly straightjacket
straitjacketed also straightjacketed; straitjacketing also straightjacketing; straitjackets also straightjackets

Definition of straitjacket (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to confine in or as if in a straitjacket

Examples of straitjacket in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Six years later, a committee from the Medico-Legal Society of the District excoriated the hospital, charging that straitjackets, handcuffs and feeding tubes were in frequent use, and that patients were often choked unconscious with towels. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Why St. Elizabeth? More musing on Washington’s hospital for the mentally ill.," 6 July 2019 Xi ought to realize that the Hong Kong protests are tangible evidence that Chinese people can and do understand democracy, and do not have to live in an authoritarian straitjacket. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: Hong Kong’s protests were an inspiring rebuke. Now comes the anxiety.," 20 June 2019 The belts on this particular straitjacket are tighter for women, as many studies have shown; exclamation points can be a sort of emotional labor women have to perform to be liked, especially in the workplace. Julie Beck, The Atlantic, "Exclamation Point Inflation," 27 June 2018 In Italy, a new populist government is trying to break out of the straitjacket of EU economic rules to stimulate its own economy. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "The Great Brexit Breakdown," 7 Dec. 2018 What kind of plant would demand that NATO up their military spending to straitjacket mad Vlad? Greg Gutfeld, Fox News, "Gutfeld on Trump's presser with Putin," 18 July 2018 Actual high schools are hotbeds of resistance to that mental straitjacket. Jay Mathews, Washington Post, "Let’s hear it for the Dragonslayer’s Society and other not-so-scholarly pursuits," 18 Feb. 2018 Crowds jammed shoulder to shoulder watched Houdini wriggle free from a straitjacket while suspended upside down. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Behind the magic of Harry Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland," 29 June 2018 Hamas is redirecting part of its human capital to serve its political objectives and find a way out of its Gaza straitjacket, while gaining a popular stance as defenders of the Palestinian national interest. Imad Alsoos, Washington Post, "Why Hamas is protesting in Gaza — and why it will continue," 8 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But this tick somehow fell into a spider web, and the resident spider promptly straitjacketed its arachnid cousin in loops of silk, either to save it as a snack or to immobilize it as a precaution. National Geographic, "Tick Wrapped in Spider Silk Found Trapped in Amber—A First," 25 May 2018 Critics over the years have accused Muti of straitjacketing the music in the name of fidelity to the score, but there was no rigidity of pacing or phrasing here. John Von Rhein,, "In Salzburg, Muti's return to 'Aida' was worth the wait," 22 Aug. 2017 Highlights from previous eras, including the 1980s pinnacle of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, look shrunken and straitjacketed in comparison. John Branch, New York Times, "The Golden State Warriors Play the Beautiful Game," 25 Oct. 2016 This was long before the Corps of Engineers straitjacketed the once wide and slower-moving river. Darryl Levings, kansascity, "How Kansas City came to fear ‘Pest House Island’," 28 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'straitjacket.' 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 straitjacket


1814, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1863, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for straitjacket

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for straitjacket

The first known use of straitjacket was in 1814

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More Definitions for straitjacket



English Language Learners Definition of straitjacket

: a jacket that has long arms which can be tied together behind someone's back and that is used to control the movements of a violent prisoner or patient


variants: also straightjacket \ ˈstrāt-​ˌjak-​ət How to pronounce straightjacket (audio) \

Medical Definition of straitjacket

: a cover or garment of strong material (as canvas) used to bind the body and especially the arms closely in restraining a violent prisoner or patient

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More from Merriam-Webster on straitjacket

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with straitjacket

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for straitjacket

Spanish Central: Translation of straitjacket

Nglish: Translation of straitjacket for Spanish Speakers

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