Synonyms & Antonyms of fetter

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 something that limits one's freedom of action or choice
  • a time-honored tradition is fine as long as it doesn't become a fetter that prevents us from trying something new

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2 something that makes movement or progress difficult
  • claims that government regulations are unnecessary fetters that keep him from achieving his business goals

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3 something that physically prevents free movement
  • considered a seat belt a pointless fetter—until one saved his life in an auto accident

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Synonyms & Antonyms of fetter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to confine or restrain with or as if with chains
  • museum artifacts that serve as somber reminders of the days when slaves were fettered with irons

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2 to create difficulty for the work or activity of
  • the belief that too many rules and restrictions fetter children's creativity

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About fetter

How does the verb fetter contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of fetter are clog, hamper, manacle, shackle, and trammel. While all these words mean "to hinder or impede in moving, progressing, or acting," fetter suggests a restraining so severe that freedom to move or progress is almost lost.

a nation fettered by an antiquated class system

When might clog be a better fit than fetter?

While in some cases nearly identical to fetter, clog usually implies a slowing by something extraneous or encumbering.

a court system clogged by frivolous suits

Where would hamper be a reasonable alternative to fetter?

The words hamper and fetter can be used in similar contexts, but hamper may imply the effect of any impeding or restraining influence.

hampered the investigation by refusing to cooperate

How does the word shackle relate to other synonyms for fetter?

Both shackle and manacle are stronger than fetter and suggest total loss of freedom.

a mind shackled by stubborn prejudice

a people manacled by tyranny

When can trammel be used instead of fetter?

The words trammel and fetter are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, trammel suggests entangling by or confining within a net.

rules that trammel the artist's creativity

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Time Traveler for fetter

Time Traveler

The first known use of fetter was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Fetter.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on fetter

Nglish: Translation of fetter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fetter for Arabic Speakers


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