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[hand-kuhf] /ˈhændˌkʌf/
a ring-shaped metal device that can be locked around a person's wrist, usually one of a pair connected by a short chain or linked bar; shackle:
The police put handcuffs on the suspect.
verb (used with object)
to put handcuffs on.
to restrain or thwart (someone) by or as if by handcuffing:
The amendments handcuffed the committee and prevented further action.
Origin of handcuff
1635-45; hand + cuff1
Related forms
unhandcuff, verb (used with object) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for handcuffs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then he held out his hands to the second mate, who snapped the handcuffs on his wrists.

    Tessa Louis Becke
  • He was carrying in his hands a pair of handcuffs that hung open-jawed.

    The Escape of Mr. Trimm Irvin S. Cobb
  • She threatened the gallows, and handcuffs, and perpetual imprisonment, and an action for damages amidst her lamentations.

    The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
  • I fought like mad, but the handcuffs were on, an' I was marched off quicker'n I can tell it.

  • "I sure am glad we took the time to trail that horse, then," Lone remarked, while Swan was removing the handcuffs.

    The Quirt B.M. Bower
British Dictionary definitions for handcuffs


(transitive) to put handcuffs on (a person); manacle
(pl) a pair of locking metal rings joined by a short bar or chain for securing prisoners, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for handcuffs



1640s as a decorative addition to a sleeve; 1690s as a type of restraining device, from hand (n.) + cuff (n.). Old English had hondcops "a pair of hand cuffs," but the modern word is a re-invention. The verb is first attested 1720. Related: Handcuffed; handcuffing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for handcuffs


Related Terms

golden handcuffs

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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