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

Verb They tethered the horses in the shade. The dog was tethered to the fence.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There is an invisible tether that connects San Diego State’s Turner Bernard, Brandon Heicklen and Matt Araiza. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Aztecs count on synchronicity of snapper-holder-kicker combination," 29 Aug. 2019 But the center of attention was the flexible ligament conjoining their breastbones—a nearly six-inch band of flesh that would serve throughout their lives as both tether and passport. Julian Lucas, The New York Review of Books, "The Great Assimilationists," 21 Feb. 2019 If Cleveland posts bond and gets released, he will be forced to wear a GPS tether; have zero contact with any witnesses involved in the case; and agree not to own any animals, the Free Press reports. Laura Barcella, PEOPLE.com, "Bond Reduced From $2 Million to $20K for Owner of Pit Bulls That Killed 9-Year-Old Detroit Girl," 2 Sep. 2019 Apple is in the midst of building a suite of media services across audio and video that tether people to its phones and other devices. Mark Gurman, Fortune, "Apple Is Ready to Invest in Its Own Original Podcasts," 16 July 2019 Check-in requires signing a waiver, hopping aboard a scale to determine the proper harness, securing loose items either in a locker or with various clips and tethers, filling a reusable water bottle and applying sunscreen and bug spray. Kathleen Christiansen, orlandosentinel.com, "Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Wild Africa Trek offers in-depth safari adventure," 8 Aug. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In 2009, the Heene family reported to media outlets — not to authorities — that their six-year-old son Falcon had accidentally been launched in a helium weather balloon tethered in the family’s back yard. Tom Noel, The Know, "16 strange, spooky and (mostly) true Colorado stories to tell around a campfire," 24 Aug. 2019 Authorities said that Harrison and his friend were riding a mountain bike and a large, low-lying, Big-Wheel-style three-wheel bike tethered together with an extension cord along Green Bay Road. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Wisconsin man guilty of not reporting fatal Zion hit-and-run," 17 June 2019 QuakeCon gets culture QuakeCon’s been tethered to Texas, home to id Software, for nearly 25 years now. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: John Wick tactics, a Blood remaster, and a survival-focused Ghost Recon," 10 May 2019 He is tethered to a blood pressure machine and a feeding pump that regulates his potentially life-threatening kidney disorder. Bend Bulletin, oregonlive, "Oregon mother fears deportation as her son waits for a kidney transplant," 3 Sep. 2019 Because she was tethered to the board, Margaritis wasn’t able to free herself, Flatley said. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Woman drowns in stand-up paddleboard yoga class accident," 4 Aug. 2019 Because she was tethered to the board, Margaritis wasn't able to free herself, Flatley said. Theresa Waldrop And Evan Simko-bednarski, CNN, "New York woman drowns in stand-up paddleboard yoga class accident," 2 Aug. 2019 At each location, it will be tethered and serve as a backdrop for a lineup of concerts; discussions about timely topics such climate change, creativity and the economy; and other curated events. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian, "A Giant, Mirrored Hot Air Balloon Is Currently Traveling Over Massachusetts," 20 July 2019 These are the subsidies that low- and middle-income Americans receive to purchase coverage and, crucially, they are tethered to the price of a mid-level health plan. Sarah Kliff, Vox, "Obamacare is having a surprisingly good year," 26 Nov. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tether

Statistics for tether

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for tether

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tether


How to pronounce tether (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tether

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tether

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tether

Spanish Central: Translation of tether

Nglish: Translation of tether for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tether for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tether

What made you want to look up tether? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!