Definition of fetter in English:



usually fetters
  • 1A chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles.

    ‘he lay bound with fetters of iron’
    • ‘He also announced a crackdown on bonded labor and said his government will ban indiscriminate use of fetters in prisons and while producing prisoners in courts.’
    • ‘Offering a bitterly harsh regime, which punishes poor pupils by placing them in heavy iron fetters, it teaches pupils to fight for the cause of Islam.’
    • ‘And you will see the criminals that Day bound together in fetters.’
    • ‘Discipline was maintained by a free application of whips, fetters, stocks, manacles, chains and the kongo, an iron collar with a long beam.’
    • ‘And they… put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of bronze, and carried him to Babylon.’
    • ‘I stood up as quick as possible, intending to take off again, but a pair of strong hands, his hands, wrapped around my shoulders and held me in place like I had fetters attached to my ankles.’
    • ‘Rather than store their precious metals in vaults, Utopians used gold and silver to make chamber pots and stools, and ‘for the chains and fetters of their bondsmen.’’
    • ‘Once I have them fast in iron fetters, and confiscate the food and wine, I'll put an end to this outrageous curse!’
    • ‘Now a short chain led from my ankle fetters to an iron staple hammered into the floor.’
    • ‘But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.’
    • ‘Inmates can also move around freely, without fetters or handcuffs, and families can visit twice a week.’
    • ‘Wherefore The Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon.’
    • ‘The seduction of the mind by the senses is symbolized by the fetters grasping the necks and legs of the prisoners in the cave, whom Plato describes as being invested in the false belief that the projected images they witness are real objects.’
    • ‘Greed is like a dark prison and vices are like fetters around one's feet.’
    shackles, manacles, handcuffs, irons, leg irons, chains, bonds
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    1. 1.1 A restraint or check on someone's freedom to act.
      ‘the fetters of convention’
      • ‘In such circumstances it would, I think, place a serious fetter on negotiations between other parties if they knew that everything that passed between them would ultimately have to be revealed to the one obdurate litigant.’
      • ‘There might be times when the tactics infringe individual freedoms such as the freedom to travel without fetter or freedoms of speech.’
      • ‘The libertarian position, that everything the government does to try to curb antisocial behaviour is an illegitimate fetter on personal liberty, seems to me to be quite wrong.’
      • ‘To attempt to place upon the idea the fetters of an exact verbal formula could never have been sound.’
      • ‘The Supreme Court has an obligation ‘to avoid putting fetters upon the future by needless pronouncements today.’’
      • ‘Virtually no legal fetters exist to curb the resort to force; international legal standards afford only minimal protection.’
      • ‘It could make a person, an artist even, that hypothetical cipher of freedom from drab social fetters, wonder if she has been doing what she wanted all along.’
      • ‘There are now new fetters on some of our freedoms, most we don't notice till we run into them.’
      • ‘They should be freed from the political fetters and given full freedom to act impartially.’
      • ‘His final walk was through riot torn Noakhali, to heal the wounds inflicted by fanatics on his beloved motherland, as she prepared to cast off the fetters of slavery and discovered that her cruel captors had dismembered her.’
      • ‘It is said that the fetter on judicial review unlawfully discriminates against non-nationals on the ground of their nationality.’
      • ‘Provided it is made without fetter of confidence and so on.’
      • ‘It is a de facto fetter on the Minister's freedom to formulate policy in Government and the electorate's right to vote for parties espousing particular policies.’
      • ‘For Faqir, it is the belief that all poetic expression can convey the ineffable, disclosing the nature of their inner being unalloyed by the fetters of religious and social convention.’
      • ‘In my judgment to impose such an obligation on a secured creditor would impose a serious fetter on the freedom of the secured creditor to exercise his power of sale over the charged property at the time and in the manner he chooses.’
      • ‘But it cannot, nor does it attempt to, impose fetters on the obligations of police authorities to pass information between each other.’
      • ‘Yes, and then the distinction between substantive fetters on powers and manner and form provisions that deal with the way in which powers are to be exercised is one that will come to the fore.’
      • ‘There are strict fetters on the ability of the court to imply further terms.’
      • ‘It is contrary to the public interest because to admit such actions would place an undesirable fetter on freedom of speech.’
      • ‘As for public policy, I accept that there is an important public interest in discouraging restraints on trade, and maintaining free and open competition unencumbered by the fetters of restrictive covenants.’
      restraint, constraint, curb, check, impediment, obstacle, barrier, handicap, bar, block, hindrance, encumbrance, disadvantage, drawback, snag, stumbling block
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[with object]
  • 1Restrain with chains or manacles, typically around the ankles.

    ‘the Supervisor tossed a key to the old slave to unlock the chain that fettered the prisoners together’
    • ‘A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite.’
    • ‘He has been, your Honour, conveyed back to the same strict custody, manacled and fettered.’
    • ‘Although unshackled from the 15 kg iron chains that fettered them for three years, they are yet to come to terms with their freedom.’
    • ‘She followed obediently, moving in ridiculously small steps because her ankles were fettered to her waist.’
    • ‘His companions were fettered and handcuffed, and were carried in a bullock cart to Delhi.’
    shackle, manacle, handcuff, clap in irons, put in chains, chain, chain up, bind, tie, tie up, tether, rope, hobble
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    1. 1.1 Confine or restrict (someone)
      ‘he was not fettered by tradition’
      • ‘I am appalled he would sanction the introduction of legislation such as this which, as Deputy Dukes said, will fetter the members of the House now and in the future.’
      • ‘How far can the government fetter its own future freedom of executive action by entering into a contract?’
      • ‘Mr Francis argued that it does because it fetters one of the important rights inherent in ownership, that of freedom of alienation.’
      • ‘Licensing, legal threats and intimidation directed at journalists all fetter press freedom.’
      • ‘It is important to avoid unduly fettering the power to amend the provisions of the scheme, thereby preventing the parties from making those changes which may be required by the exigencies of commercial life.’
      • ‘Philosophers, however, were not fettered by such constraints.’
      • ‘Just a little woozy… sane enough, but of course, to spit out the entire chemistry of the substance that fettered us with its silken strands.’
      • ‘The principle thus given is of great importance and ought not, in my opinion, to be unduly fettered or restricted.’
      • ‘Future work will not be fettered by previous constraints.’
      • ‘Whereas wrong desires restrict and fetter, right desires enhance and liberate.’
      • ‘If the freed slave was not fettered by this social contract (self-disciplined productive laborer and consumer), she was criminal.’
      • ‘For the corruption of weak choices results in a chain of habit being formed, which fetters the character and becomes second nature, flawed or ‘vitiated’ nature.’
      • ‘A contract which unlawfully fetters the discretion of a purchaser is ultra vires and invalid.’
      • ‘Women throughout the developed world, she adds, are in revolt ‘against a domestic role they believe fetters their personal freedom’.’
      • ‘Yes, it means having a nationality, and more often than not, a religion, and so on; all of these things which really fetter us I think.’
      • ‘Let loose for his first full 90 minutes this week, in a reserve match against Montrose, he says he was refusing to be fettered by any constraints.’
      • ‘The benign prerogative of mercy reposed cannot be fettered by any legislative restrictions.’
      • ‘We certainly listened very closely to the advice provided by officials, weighed up the issues, and basically came down to the basis that we must not unduly fetter or hamstring the commission itself.’
      restrict, restrain, constrain, confine, limit
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Old English feter, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch veter ‘a lace’, from an Indo-European root shared by foot.