[ fet-er ]
See synonyms for fetter on Thesaurus.com
  1. a chain or shackle placed on the feet.

  2. Usually fetters. anything that confines or restrains: Boredom puts fetters upon the imagination.

verb (used with object)
  1. to put fetters upon.

  2. 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

Other words from fetter

  • fet·ter·er, noun
  • fet·ter·less, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fetter in a sentence

  • He hath built against me round about, that I may not get out: he hath made my fetters heavy.

  • With touching naivet the Acts relate that no fetters could be found small enough for her wrists.

    The Catacombs of Rome | William Henry Withrow
  • It was ever-present, implacable and sinister, yet so long as its fetters held, easily controlled.

    The Underworld | James C. Welsh
  • Azenor the Pale, writhed with pain under her iron fetters as the flames, reaching her limbs, set her robe and long hair on fire.

British Dictionary definitions for fetter


/ (ˈfɛtə) /

  1. (often plural) a chain or bond fastened round the ankle; shackle

  2. (usually plural) a check or restraint: in fetters

  1. to restrict or confine

  2. to bind in fetters

Origin of fetter

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

Derived forms of fetter

  • fetterer, noun
  • fetterless, adjective

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