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[shak-uh l] /ˈʃæk əl/
a ring or other fastening, as of iron, for securing the wrist, ankle, etc.; fetter.
a hobble or fetter for a horse or other animal.
the U -shaped bar of a padlock, one end of which is pivoted or sliding, the other end of which can be released, as for passing through a staple, and then fastened, as for securing a hasp.
any of various fastening or coupling devices.
Often, shackles. anything that serves to prevent freedom of procedure, thought, etc.
verb (used with object), shackled, shackling.
to put a shackle or shackles on; confine or restrain by a shackle or shackles.
to fasten or couple with a shackle.
to restrain in action, thought, etc., as by restrictions; restrict the freedom of.
Origin of shackle
before 1000; (noun) Middle English schakle, schakyl(le); Old English sceacel fetter; cognate with Low German schakel hobble, Old Norse skǫkull wagon pole, (v.) late Middle English schaklyn, derivative of the noun
Related forms
shackler, noun
1. chain, manacle, handcuff, gyve, bilboes. 5. obstacle, obstruction, impediment, encumbrance. 6. restrict, fetter, chain, handcuff, hobble. 8. trammel, impede, slow, stultify, dull.
6, 8. liberate, free. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shackle
  • The hand-wound armature is the size of an ankle shackle, built to last centuries.
  • In this case, the ends of handlebars come off and are joined together onto a single hoop-shaped shackle.
  • The players were told to report to a parking lot, where t hey were loaded onto a ram-shackle bus wit h blacked-out windows.
  • It means that color need not shackle the cinema, but may give it fuller expression.
  • Corporations today shackle and stifle workers by denying them and their communities adequate compensation.
  • After cutting the roof plates loose with a torch, they would cut a hole to fit the shackle and then attach the steel choker.
  • Clips or pads of ample size shall be welded to the plate to receive the shackle pins when there are no holes in the plate.
  • The loop was closed by connecting the eye of the end termination to the line with a shackle.
  • They attached a synthetic strap with a shackle to pull the forklift and turn it upright.
British Dictionary definitions for shackle


(often pl) a metal ring or fastening, usually part of a pair used to secure a person's wrists or ankles; fetter
(often pl) anything that confines or restricts freedom
a rope, tether, or hobble for an animal
a U-shaped bracket, the open end of which is closed by a bolt (shackle pin), used for securing ropes, chains, etc
verb (transitive)
to confine with or as if with shackles
to fasten or connect with a shackle
Derived Forms
shackler, noun
Word Origin
Old English sceacel; related to Dutch schakel, Old Norse skokull wagon pole, Latin cingere to surround
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 shackle

Old English sceacel "shackle, fetter," probably also in a general sense "a link or ring of a chain," from Proto-Germanic *skakula- (cf. Middle Dutch, Dutch schakel "link of a chain, ring of a net," Old Norse skökull "pole of a carriage"), of uncertain origin. According to OED, the common notion of "something to fasten or attach" makes a connection with shake unlikely. Figurative use from early 13c. Related: Shackledom "marriage" (1771); shackle-bone "the wrist" (1570s).


mid-15c., from shackle (n.). Figurative use from 1560s. Related: Shackled; shackling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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