verb tram·mel \ˈtra-məl\

Definition of trammel








play \ˈtra-mə-liŋ, ˈtram-liŋ\
  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to catch or hold in or as if in a net :  enmesh

  3. 2 :  to prevent or impede the free play of :  confine

trammel was our Word of the Day on 11/23/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of trammel in a sentence

  1. students and parents who want to throw off the trammels of outdated school policies

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."

Circa 1606

First Known Use of trammel

circa 1606

Synonym Discussion of 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



noun tram·mel

Definition of trammel

  1. 1 :  something impeding activity, progress, or freedom :  restraint —usually used in plural

  2. 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. 3 :  an adjustable pothook for a fireplace crane

  4. 4 :  a shackle used for making a horse amble

  5. 5a :  an instrument for drawing ellipsesb :  a compass for drawing large circles that consists of a beam with two sliding parts —usually used in pluralc :  any of various gauges used for aligning or adjusting machine parts

Examples of trammel in a sentence

  1. laws that trammel our rights as citizens

  2. years after his death, she was still trammeled by inconsolable grief for her deceased husband

Origin and Etymology of 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

First Known Use: 14th century

TRAMMEL Defined for English Language Learners



noun tram·mel

Definition of trammel for English Language Learners

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

Seen and Heard

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


a trip made at another's expense

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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