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[tram-uh l] /ˈtræm əl/
Usually, trammels. a hindrance or impediment to free action; restraint:
the trammels of custom.
an instrument for drawing ellipses.
Also called tram. a device used to align or adjust parts of a machine.
a fowling net.
a contrivance hung in a fireplace to support pots or kettles over the fire.
a fetter or shackle, especially one used in training a horse to amble.
verb (used with object), trammeled, trammeling or (especially British) trammelled, trammelling.
to involve or hold in trammels; restrain.
to catch or entangle in or as in a net.
Origin of trammel
1325-75; Middle English tramayle < Middle French tramail, variant of tremail three-mesh net < Late Latin trēmaculum, equivalent to Latin trē(s) three + macula mesh
Related forms
trammeler; especially British, trammeller, noun
untrammeled, adjective
untrammelled, adjective
1. drag, hobble, curb, inhibition. 8. hinder, impede, obstruct, encumber. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for trammeled
Historical Examples
  • She was determined that her sisters' lives should not be trammeled by her weakness.

    Girls and Women Harriet E. Paine (AKA E. Chester}
  • Because he was not trammeled by the arrangements of Ahab's house.

    Elijah the Tishbite C. (Charles) H. (Henry) Mackintosh
  • But I have to live my life myself, and will not be trammeled by any conventions of your social world.

    The Watchers of the Plains

    Ridgewell Cullum
  • And even if such be needful, why must the personal essence be trammeled by the same old worn-out habiliments of error?

    Once a Greech Evelyn E. Smith
  • It is only rarely that he is trammeled with being forced to write contrary to his convictions.

    News Writing M. Lyle Spencer
  • I did not think that in the selection of a Cabinet officer I should be trammeled by such considerations.

  • To Western eyes already the young men in the older East seem to be trammeled by social conventions.

    The Principles of Economics Frank A. Fetter
  • I was an accomplished flirt, but I was not trammeled by the always dangerous reputation—it was not known.

    The Inner Sisterhood Douglass Sherley et al.
  • She's monopolized, as usual; trammeled by a rash engagement to some poor man who is never likely to get money enough to marry her.

    The Queen of Hearts Wilkie Collins
  • Neither is he trammeled by any nice distinctions as to what may or may not be considered game.

    In New England Fields and Woods Rowland E. Robinson
British Dictionary definitions for trammeled


(often pl) a hindrance to free action or movement
Also called trammel net. a fishing net in three sections, the two outer nets having a large mesh and the middle one a fine mesh
(rare) a fowling net
(US) a fetter or shackle, esp one used in teaching a horse to amble
a device for drawing ellipses consisting of a flat sheet of metal, plastic, or wood having a cruciform slot in which run two pegs attached to a beam. The free end of the beam describes an ellipse
(sometimes pl) another name for beam compass
Also called tram. a gauge for setting up machines correctly
a device set in a fireplace to support cooking pots
verb (transitive) -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to hinder or restrain
to catch or ensnare
to produce an accurate setting of (a machine adjustment), as with a trammel
Derived Forms
trammeller, (US) trammeler, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French tramail three-mesh net, from Late Latin trēmaculum, from Latin trēs three + macula hole, mesh in a net
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 trammeled



mid-14c. (implied in trammeller) "net to catch fish," from Middle French tramail, from Old French (early 13c.), from Late Latin tremaculum, perhaps meaning "a net made from three layers of meshes," from Latin tri- "three" + macula "a mesh" (see mail (2)). Italian tramaglio, Spanish trasmallo are French loan-words.



1530s, originally "to bind up (a corpse);" sense of "hinder, restrain" is from 1727, from trammel (n.). Related: Trammeled; trammeling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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