bound hand and foot


Wholly obligated, unable to free oneself. For example, These rules have us bound hand and foot; we can't even discuss the matter. This term transfers the literal meaning, having one's hands and feet tied and therefore unable to move, to legal, moral, or social obligations. The expression dates from the 10th century a.d.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.