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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.
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 shackled
  • Right or wrong are shackled to the human language system.
  • Patients were abused, shackled, even surgically sterilized.
  • Whenever they are removed from their cells, they are shackled.
  • But now politicians get in and their hands are shackled.
  • Prisoners, shackled to one another, climb off a barge onto a dock.
  • She was shackled to a hospital bed until the final phase of labour.
  • One of them, fresh from a car chase, is shackled by the ankle to his bed.
  • The media is shackled, and executions are occurring at a rate of almost two a day.
  • Alternatively, the eyes of the lifting legs may be shackled directly to the hoisting block, ball or balance beam.
  • He along with other prisoners were shackled together.
British Dictionary definitions for shackled


(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 shackled



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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