un·​fet·​tered | \ ˌən-ˈfe-tərd How to pronounce unfettered (audio) \

Definition of unfettered

: free, unrestrained unfettered access

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A fetter is a chain or shackle for the feet (as on a prisoner), or, more broadly, anything that confines or restrains. The word derives from Middle English "feter" and shares a relationship with Old English fot, meaning "foot." In current English "unfettered" typically suggests that someone or something is figuratively "unchained," or unrestrained in progress or spirit. The poet John Donne is believed to have been the first to use "unfettered" in this way, in his 1601 work The Progress of the Soule: "To an unfetterd soules quick nimble hast / Are falling stars, and hearts thoughts, but slow pac'd."

Examples of unfettered in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There is no other car this side of a Porsche Boxster as unfettered or as well balanced. Car and Driver, "2019 10Best Cars," 28 Nov. 2018 The ball itself was a sight to behold, like stepping into the unfettered brain of Frida Kahlo. Zachary Schwartz, Vogue, "The Brooklyn Artists Ball Was a Frida Kahlo–Inspired Fiesta," 17 Apr. 2019 Many are young, tech-savvy individuals who stay up late to trade using mobile apps, and who prefer the unfettered nature of U.S. markets to more restrictive conditions in mainland China. ... Stella Yifan Xie, WSJ, "China’s Night Traders Are Moving U.S. Stocks," 12 Mar. 2019 DuVernay’s unfettered vision has since made history. Allison Glock, Marie Claire, "The Change Makers: Constance Wu, Ava DuVernay, and Jessica Chastain," 7 Mar. 2019 Oh, and what with the tongue-in-cheek posing for the cameras during their show, that fashion needs to get back to some unfettered joy and fun. Mark Holgate, Vogue, "Symonds Pearmain Just Emerged As the Latest Label to Know From London," 16 Feb. 2019 By adopting a new dog and inviting us all to vicariously experience the unfettered joy of giving a home to an animal in need, that's how. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Joe Biden Adopts Adorable Shelter Dog," 18 Nov. 2018 Since becoming the bishop of Rome, the pontiff has published an apostolic exhortation deeply critical of unfettered capitalism, repeatedly offered vocal support for immigrants and produced an encyclical calling for action on climate change. Jack Jenkins, USA TODAY, "Pope Francis is still popular, but warm feelings waning among conservatives, survey finds," 7 Mar. 2018 The chief typically has unfettered access to the president, spending more time with him than anyone in his orbit. Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ, "Trump Taps Mick Mulvaney as Acting Chief of Staff," 14 Dec. 2018

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

circa 1631, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

26 May 2019

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Time Traveler for unfettered

The first known use of unfettered was circa 1631

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English Language Learners Definition of unfettered

formal : not controlled or restricted

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


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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