Definition of shackle in US English:



  • 1shacklesA pair of fetters connected together by a chain, used to fasten a prisoner's wrists or ankles together.

    • ‘The boy was wearing a blue and black prisoner uniform with broken shackles on his wrists and feet.’
    • ‘The men roughly pulled Prudence and the others from the wagon and put cast iron shackles around their wrists, attaching them to the cart so they wouldn't get away.’
    • ‘She found herself in a dark cold cell with chains around her wrists and shackles around her ankles.’
    • ‘She and I would never be broken apart again, and we would never have to feel the lash of a whip, hear someone call us ugly names, feel the cold cruelty of shackles and chains about our wrists and ankles.’
    • ‘As Jordan walked through the school gates it was as if iron shackles fell over his wrists and weighed him down.’
    • ‘He also wore shackles on his wrists and ankles as well as a metal collar around his neck to prevent his escape.’
    • ‘The shackles on his ankles and the handcuffs on his wrist made him ache.’
    • ‘When Francis came to, he found himself in a cavernous room, suspended a metre or more above the ground, by sturdy shackles on his wrists and ankles.’
    • ‘‘I'm sorry,’ he said, and he took a pair of shackles and locked them around her wrists, chaining her to the wall.’
    • ‘They caught up surprisingly fast and one tackled me to the ground while the other placed shackles on my ankles and wrists.’
    • ‘I noticed that she had cuffs around her wrists and ankles, like shackles without the chains.’
    • ‘She saw Avery in the prison yard hanging from the shackles on his wrists.’
    • ‘Your client is not in shackles in the prison itself, only when being transported to and from…’
    • ‘Finally, he reached into his knapsack, removing a pair of handcuffs and leg shackles to restrain Nathan.’
    • ‘He tugged on the chain connecting my shackles together’
    • ‘She could tell he was chained to a wall with iron shackles on each wrist and she assumed on his ankles too.’
    • ‘If the pain from the raw electricity didn't kill the prisoner, the shackles would.’
    • ‘The article reported that the girl was detained in handcuffs and shackles.’
    • ‘As she moved her hand to massage her temples, she felt the weight of heavy chains and shackles around her wrists.’
    • ‘She ran forward and quickly undid the shackles on his wrists and ankles.’
    chains, fetters, irons, leg irons, manacles, handcuffs
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    1. 1.1 Used in reference to something that restrains or impedes.
      ‘society is going to throw off the shackles of racism and colonialism’
      • ‘You can mail order to your heart's content, free from the shackles of provincial law.’
      • ‘I see a people who have thrown off the shackles of witchcraft, which has bound people for centuries…’
      • ‘Family support groups and consumers have come out in the open breaking the shackles of stigma and fighting for their rights.’
      • ‘With the shackles of the world cast off, he ventures off into the unknown, braving the storm to find the rainbow on the other side - just as he wants.’
      • ‘She remains voiceless but the postures and the expressions convey the intense desire to break out of conventional modes, a desire to burst forth from the shackles of male suppression.’
      • ‘Was this not a historic opportunity to break free from the shackles of class oppression and found a new society?’
      • ‘There's that secret burning desire in each of us that wants to break free from the shackles of obedience.’
      • ‘By evoking the shamelessness of the mythic trickster, the creative artist overcomes shame and breaks through the shackles of social constraint.’
      • ‘McElroy, who desperately wants to throw off the shackles of the drug world, has other plans.’
      • ‘This leads me to ask what differences exist between those who have broken the shackles of a common dilemma and those who have not.’
      • ‘A communal project raising ostriches in the drought stricken areas of the Karas region is giving rural farmers a chance to escape the shackles of poverty.’
      • ‘These are the people who yearn to get away from the shackles of the mouse and the motherboard.’
      • ‘With scarcity and stagnation cast aside, the economy could finally throw off the shackles of a crude good-for-good bartering system.’
      • ‘The secondary meaning of free, to free comics from the shackles of prejudice, had yet to be addressed.’
      • ‘Well, thankfully we have an opportunity each fall to choose cinematic options that remove (to a degree) the shackles of the corporate system.’
      • ‘This stylistic approach may have been a ploy to attract a wider reading public, but historians should more often throw off the shackles of pedantry and learn to write and read history as literature.’
      • ‘If there's one thing Taha's an extremist about, it's shattering the shackles of cultural isolation.’
      • ‘When you've been trapped in the shackles of ballet most of your life, escaping to the world of contemporary dance can be liberating.’
      • ‘It is time we cast off the shackles of this oppressive existence and let liberty, personal responsibility and social tolerance flourish in New Zealand.’
      • ‘With the bailout guarantee verbally and practically in place and the vision of a new economic dawn firmly put forth, the shackles of fear that had restrained excessive debt accumulation in the past have been shed.’
      restrictions, trammels, restraints, constraints, straitjacket
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  • 2A metal link, typically U-shaped, closed by a bolt, used to secure a chain or rope to something.

    • ‘So was the shackle which fastened it to the halyard.’
    1. 2.1 A pivoted link connecting a spring in a vehicle's suspension to the body of the vehicle.


[with object]
  • 1Chain with shackles.

    • ‘I do not think any prisoners in Australia are shackled.’
    • ‘When not in a cell, prisoners are cuffed, shackled and escorted by two or three guards.’
    • ‘Before they move you, they take you anywhere, you had to be shackled, and you had to have a chain on your waist, you had to be handcuffed.’
    • ‘He produced a statement from the prison officer to whom Mullen had been shackled who thought that the precaution was unnecessary.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, as I got off the ship, chained and shackled, I didn't feel a deep yearning or nostalgic inclination to being on land.’
    • ‘In a corner, shackled and chained, was a grey mass.’
    • ‘The three prisoners who have been shackled up are frightened.’
    • ‘When the door closed, it revealed a cell with the prisoners inside shackled to heavy metal balls resting on the wooden floor.’
    • ‘A believer in strict discipline, he preferred forms of punishment like putting a prisoner in stocks or shackling him to a ball and chain.’
    • ‘They were accused of torturing and starving five of their eight adopted children - pulling out toenails, shackling them with chains and shocking them with electrical cords.’
    • ‘Joshua snapped his fingers and chains appeared by magic shackling both Duncan's arms and legs.’
    • ‘They are on-screen together during virtually the entire time, and for much of it, chained together by a meter-long chain shackled to their wrists.’
    • ‘Lining the walls around him were other people: men, women, and even children, who were all chained and shackled, just as he was.’
    • ‘He awoke bound and shackled in a prison cell with three brute men with whips standing around him.’
    • ‘At age 60, he swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf, handcuffed, shackled, and towing a 1,000-pound boat.’
    • ‘But shortly after, his arms and legs were shackled, and he was taken to one of New York's most notorious lock-ups - Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Centre.’
    • ‘Together, they're a couple of test-lab refugees with little in common except for the three feet of chain that shackles them together.’
    • ‘She found herself chained and shackled to a big wooden board.’
    • ‘After all, if they hadn't, they would not have believed the judge and prosecutor would stoop to the level of shackling a first-grader.’
    • ‘The next day, the ship reached the shore of England and all the prisoners were handcuffed, shackled and forced into boats destined for the shore.’
    chain, fetter, manacle
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    1. 1.1 Restrain; limit.
      ‘they seek to shackle the oil and gas companies by imposing new controls’
      • ‘For once in her life she didn't feel shackled and chained.’
      • ‘As a Hindu I am proud to subscribe to a creed that is free of the restrictive dogmas of holy writ that refuses to be shackled to the limitations of a single holy book.’
      • ‘The ‘soft law’ approach allows states to tackle a problem collectively at a time when they do not want too strictly to shackle their freedom of action.’
      • ‘And unlike the anti-marketing Masters Tournament, which limits ads, the USGA doesn't shackle the networks.’
      • ‘I want to break free from the chains that shackle me to them.’
      restrain, restrict, limit, constrain
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Old English sc(e)acul ‘fetter’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schakel ‘link, coupling’.