teth·​er | \ ˈte-t͟hər How to pronounce tether (audio) \

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 How to pronounce tethering (audio) \

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

During the descent, rockets slow it down while the rover is lowered on tethers and an umbilical cord that provides communication and power. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The next rover will offer the clearest view of Mars yet, plus a helicopter," 5 June 2019 A few days earlier, Platt, who will turn 26 this month, wore heavy stubble and a black leather jacket to sing on Jimmy Kimmel, but today his smooth cheeks and dungaree overalls are a tether to childhood. Vogue, "Ben Platt on His Next Act: A Star Turn in Ryan Murphy's The Politician," 20 Aug. 2019 Suddenly on 18th Birthday Poppen would soon make small adjustments to the Snurfer, such as adding a tether to help riders steer down the snow. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Sherm Poppen, Who Invented the Snowboard Prototype for His Two Daughters, Dies at 89," 12 Aug. 2019 Lyft introduced a new electric model in June: black with hot pink wheels and a cable lock so riders can choose whether to park it at a company dock, or tether it to any bike stand. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Where are the bikes? As Lyft and SF spar in court, new fleet sits in warehouse," 29 June 2019 There's also the risk of accidentally tripping your child with the tether. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "What You Need to Know About Kid Leash Safety, According to Pediatricians," 10 Apr. 2019 Once the tether is fully extended, the kite is angled to catch less wind, reeled partway back in, and allowed to reel out again. The Economist, "An innovative approach to making electricity from the wind," 7 June 2019 For now, the tether snipping step still takes a minute. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "New technique could help scientists create a gene in just 1 day," 18 June 2018 When Mueller-Korenek released her tether, Holbrook pushed the dragster’s pedal to the floor. Jason Gay, WSJ, "She Just Rode 184 MPH on a Bicycle. Really.," 17 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Confined to a hospital room and tethered to intravenous tubes and beeping machines, Mr. De Alba has had several weeks to think about the massacre, and the man charged with orchestrating it. New York Times, "‘My World Has Now Stopped’: How One Family Is Recovering From a Mass Shooting," 31 Aug. 2019 The truth is, every human behavior—from addiction to attraction to anxiety—is tethered to a genetic anchor. Bill Sullivan, National Geographic, "Why we like what we like: A scientist’s surprising findings," 6 Aug. 2019 During that test the vehicle was tethered to the ground during that ignition and subsequent firings, so the rocket hasn’t seen any air yet. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX’s test rocket catches fire after engine test," 17 July 2019 Ride-hail giant Lyft has exclusive rights to operate a bike-rental program on San Francisco streets, whether its two-wheelers are parked in docks or tethered to random bike racks, a San Francisco judge said Tuesday. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Lyft wins preliminary ruling for exclusive bike-rental rights in SF," 10 July 2019 Some 400 miles up the river in Juarez, across from El Paso, Kabuya Mutombo spent hours in the late June sun on his phone, tethered to an electrical strip in the courtyard of the Buen Pastor shelter. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Facing Trump’s asylum limits, refugees from as far as Africa languish in a Mexican camp," 8 July 2019 Orphaned and seemingly completely isolated, with no friends or other relatives, Dani is both tethered solely to Christian and vulnerable to the wiles of a surrogate family, however malevolent. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Midsommar,” Reviewed: Ari Aster’s Backwards Horror Story of an American Couple in Sweden," 8 July 2019 One flies in Puerto Rico, and yet another is tethered at Cudjoe Key in South Florida. Matthew Farwell, The New Republic, "America’s Once and Future Concentration Camp," 3 July 2019 That means a full week without worrying about being tethered to an outlet. Julianne Ross, CNN Underscored, "Over 20,000 people love these portable chargers," 2 July 2019

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

12 Sep 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on tether

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tether

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tether

Spanish Central: Translation of tether

Nglish: Translation of tether for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tether for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tether

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formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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