teth·​er | \ˈte-t͟hər \

Definition of tether 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a line (as of rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so as to restrict its range of movement

b : a line to which someone or something is attached (as for security) A crewman can clip the tether of his harness to the [safety line] and leave it clipped as he makes his way forward and aft.— Michael A. Smith

2 : the limit of one's strength or resources I'm at the end of my tether.


tethered; tethering\ ˈte-​t͟h(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of tether (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to fasten or restrain by or as if by a tether felt tethered to her desk until the work was done

Examples of tether in a Sentence


They tethered the horses in the shade. The dog was tethered to the fence.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Video taken by news helicopters showed two New York Police Department officers, attached to tethers, climb up to the base around 6:15 p.m. — the time of the park's closing — and apprehend the woman. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Trump slams OPEC over gas prices; porn star lawyer eyes 2020 presidential run," 5 July 2018 Craig said Traylor should have been turned over to a mental health court rather than released on tether. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police chief blasts judge in case of man who allegedly cut tether," 26 May 2018 And the bots will also be completely on their own this time, with no safety tethers or power cables allowed. Michael Belfiore, Popular Mechanics, "These 25 Teams Will Try to Win DARPA's Robot Olympics," 5 Mar. 2015 All the adults were fitted for ankle bracelets, their tether to the federal government. Annie Correal, New York Times, "‘Mi Amor!’: Tearful Scenes as Immigrant Reunions Begin in New York," 11 July 2018 The movie's writer based the script off her own experience partying there with friends one summer, but that might be the only real tether to Ibiza the film can claim. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Netflix's 'Ibiza' Director Has Never Been to Ibiza," 26 June 2018 And despite the Louisiana heat in midsummer, Maria wears long pants to hide the tether on her ankle. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Separated at the border, asylum seeker pleads for son's return," 5 July 2018 The potential difficulty of cutting oneself loose in an emergency was highlighted by the provision of small blades for cutting through the tethers. Patrick Mcgeehan, New York Times, "F.A.A. Halts ‘Doors-Off’ Helicopter Flights After New York Crash," 16 Mar. 2018 There are an additional four years on the tether, through 2023, but the financial penalty for an owner moving the team is minimal. Steve Harrison, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte has budgeted millions for second round of stadium renovations | Charlotte Observer," 15 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There’s something really specific about being a Hoover and the pejorative term that was multigenerationally tethered to economic hard times, misery and antipathy for the struggles of ordinary people. New York Times, "Margaret Hoover and John Avlon on their Post-Partisan Marriage," 11 July 2018 For the uninitiated, these e-scooters and e-bikes can be rented for $1 to start and are not tethered to one location, so they can be moved around to meet or create demand and theoretically be picked up and dropped off anywhere. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Here’s what’s missing in the conversation about dockless e-scooters and bikes," 29 Apr. 2018 But Piper alone found a way to tether her work to many of our society’s most urgent moral questions. Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York Times, "Adrian Piper’s Show at MoMA is the Largest Ever for a Living Artist. Why Hasn’t She Seen It?," 27 June 2018 For couples, singles exist as invisible orbs until tethered to a second human. Beca Grimm, GQ, "Invite Your Single Friends on Group Vacations, Dammit," 6 June 2018 Like others runners with his extreme visual impairment, Matthews ran with a guide, tethered by a short rope looped around their fingers. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Rob Matthews, 56, Blind Paralympian Who Won 8 Gold Medals, Dies," 19 Apr. 2018 At Thebes, in the tomb of the Valley of the Kings, He was depicted in a hieroglyph, his forelegs gently tetheredBy two slaves with a green monkey clinging to his neck like a child Just along for the ride. Connie Bruck, The New Yorker, "Giraffe," 14 Mar. 2018 But what drives their point home are bits that capture the appalling misery of animals that are tethered by the score and sometimes by the hundreds, day in and day out, each to its own small patch of turf, in commercial dog kennels. Peter Porco, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Sled Dogs’ is an important movie. The pushback is a sign that it’s on target," 2 Mar. 2018 While others lag, Muya pecks away at a ball on a string that’s tethered to a headband. Bryce Miller, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Round 1: Will anger, desire spur a young San Diego boxer to spotlight?," 22 June 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tether


Middle English tethir, teder, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse tjōthr tether; akin to Old High German zeotar pole of a wagon

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Statistics for tether

Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for tether

The first known use of tether was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tether



English Language Learners Definition of tether

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a rope or chain that is used to tie an animal to a post, wall, etc., so that it will stay in a particular area



English Language Learners Definition of tether (Entry 2 of 2)

: to use a rope or chain to tie (an animal) to something in order to keep it in a particular area


teth·​er | \ˈte-t͟hər\
tethered; tethering

Kids Definition of tether

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to fasten by a line that limits range of movement



Kids Definition of tether (Entry 2 of 2)

: a line by which something is fastened so as to limit where it can go

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Comments on tether

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by force of circumstances

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