a chain or shackle placed on the feet.
Usually fetters. anything that confines or restrains: Boredom puts fetters upon the imagination.

verb (used with object)

to put fetters upon.
to confine; restrain.

Origin of fetter

before 900; Middle English, Old English feter; cognate with Old High German fezzera, Old Norse fjǫturr; akin to foot
Related formsfet·ter·er, nounfet·ter·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fettered

Contemporary Examples of fettered

  • Evidently, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz in short order made himself into a poster boy for fettered capitalism.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Glad I Always Played a Telecaster

    Michael Tomasky

    August 7, 2012

Historical Examples of fettered

  • They would not allow him to resist, but fettered him and led his spirit away.

  • In this spirit, he was fettered with great care, and conveyed into the interior of the prison.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • Here again our legislation is fettered by ignorance and religious dogma.

  • Under the earth the fettered men—on the ruins of the church the singing bird.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • And shall we crouch above these graves,With craven soul and fettered lip?

    The Liberty Minstrel

    George W. Clark

British Dictionary definitions for fettered



(often plural) a chain or bond fastened round the ankle; shackle
(usually plural) a check or restraintin fetters

verb (tr)

to restrict or confine
to bind in fetters
Derived Formsfetterer, nounfetterless, adjective

Word Origin for fetter

Old English fetor; related to Old Norse fjöturr fetter, Old High German fezzera, Latin pedica fetter, impedīre to hinder
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

Word Origin and History for fettered



c.1300, from Old English gefetrian (see fetter (n.)). Related: Fettered; fettering.



Old English fetor "chain or shackle for the feet," from Proto-Germanic *fetero (cf. Old Saxon feteros (plural), Middle Dutch veter "fetter," in modern Dutch "lace, string," Old High German fezzera, Old Norse fiöturr, Swedish fjätter), from PIE root *ped- "foot" (see foot (n.)). The generalized sense of "anything that shackles" had evolved in Old English. Related Fetters.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper