• synonyms


[span-suh l]
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  1. a noosed rope with which to hobble an animal, especially a horse or cow.
verb (used with object), span·celed, span·cel·ing or (especially British) span·celled, span·cel·ling.
  1. to fetter with or as with a spancel.

Origin of spancel

1600–10; < Low German spansel, derivative of spannen to stretch; see span2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spancel

Historical Examples

  • As my horse was straying toward the west side of the clearing I went to fetch him back and spancel him near the fort.

    A Virginia Scout

    Hugh Pendexter

  • My wrist-cords were loosed, my ankles were fastened only with a spancel, and strong hands jerked me to my feet.

    A Virginia Scout

    Hugh Pendexter

  • I ordered my servant to spancel the mules, and tether the horse to a shrub by a long rope.

  • Langel; to tie the fore and the hind leg of a cow or goat with a spancel or fetter to prevent it going over fences.

British Dictionary definitions for spancel


  1. a length of rope for hobbling an animal, esp a horse or cow
verb -cels, -celling or -celled or US -cels, -celing or -celed
  1. (tr) to hobble (an animal) with a loose rope

Word Origin

C17: from Low German spansel, from spannen to stretch; see span ²
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