|ball and chain|
|1.||(formerly) a heavy iron ball attached to a chain and fastened to a prisoner|
|2.||a heavy restraint|
|3.||slang a wife|
ball and chain
A burden and restraint, as in Karen regarded her job as a ball and chain, but she needed the money. The term, dating from the early 1800s, alludes to chaining a heavy iron ball to a prisoner's leg. Later it was transferred to other kinds of restraining burden.