tram·​mel | \ ˈtra-məl How to pronounce trammel (audio) \
trammeled or trammelled; trammeling or trammelling\ ˈtra-​mə-​liŋ How to pronounce trammelling (audio) , ˈtram-​liŋ \

Definition of trammel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to catch or hold in or as if in a net : enmesh
2 : to prevent or impede the free play of : confine



Definition of trammel (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something impeding activity, progress, or freedom : restraint usually used in plural
2 : a net for catching birds or fish especially : one having three layers with the middle one finer-meshed and slack so that fish passing through carry some of the center net through the coarser opposite net and are trapped
3 : an adjustable pothook for a fireplace crane
4 : a shackle used for making a horse amble
5a : an instrument for drawing ellipses
b : a compass for drawing large circles that consists of a beam with two sliding parts usually used in plural
c : any of various gauges used for aligning or adjusting machine parts

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Choose the Right Synonym for trammel


hamper, trammel, clog, fetter, shackle, manacle mean to hinder or impede in moving, progressing, or acting. hamper may imply the effect of any impeding or restraining influence. hampered the investigation by refusing to cooperate trammel suggests entangling by or confining within a net. rules that trammel the artist's creativity clog usually implies a slowing by something extraneous or encumbering. a court system clogged by frivolous suits fetter suggests a restraining so severe that freedom to move or progress is almost lost. a nation fettered by an antiquated class system shackle and manacle are stronger than fetter and suggest total loss of freedom. a mind shackled by stubborn prejudice a people manacled by tyranny

Did You Know?


A trammel fishing net traditionally has three layers, with the middle one finer-meshed and slack so that fish passing through the first net carry some of the center net through the coarser third net and are trapped. Appropriately, "trammel" traces back to the Late Latin tremaculum, which comes from Latin tres, meaning "three," and macula, meaning "mesh." Today, "trammels" is synonymous with "restraints," and "trammel" is also used as a verb meaning "to confine" or "to enmesh." You may also run across the adjective untrammeled, meaning "not confined or limited."

Examples of trammel in a Sentence


laws that trammel our rights as citizens years after his death, she was still trammeled by inconsolable grief for her deceased husband


students and parents who want to throw off the trammels of outdated school policies
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Now the area is brimming with new construction, and Ms. Medvedow, 63, is leading her institution into another less-trammeled area. New York Times, "In an East Boston Shipyard, a Watershed Idea for Art," 22 June 2018 Those federal laws, along with state and local equivalents, provide broad and effective remedies for unequal pay without trammeling the hiring process. Gerald Skoning, WSJ, "When It’s Illegal to Ask, ‘How Much Do You Make?’," 12 Dec. 2017 When applied to armed protests, that mindset takes our country to a dangerous place: The Second Amendment and state open carry laws cannot trammel the free speech rights of unarmed protesters and the necessity for law enforcement to keep the peace. Olivia Li, Slate Magazine, "Can You Bring a Gun to a Protest?," 17 Oct. 2017

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


circa 1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for trammel


Middle English tramayle, a kind of net, from Old French tramail, from Late Latin tremaculum, from Latin tres three + macula mesh, spot — more at three

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Time Traveler for trammel

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

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More Definitions for trammel



English Language Learners Definition of trammel

formal : to limit or restrict (something or someone) unfairly

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More from Merriam-Webster on trammel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trammel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trammel

Nglish: Translation of trammel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trammel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on trammel

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


to complain fretfully

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