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See more synonyms for handcuff on Thesaurus.com
  1. a ring-shaped metal device that can be locked around a person's wrist, usually one of a pair connected by a short chain or linked bar; shackle: The police put handcuffs on the suspect.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to put handcuffs on.
  2. to restrain or thwart (someone) by or as if by handcuffing: The amendments handcuffed the committee and prevented further action.
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Origin of handcuff

First recorded in 1635–45; hand + cuff1
Related formsun·hand·cuff, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for handcuffs


  1. (tr) to put handcuffs on (a person); manacle
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  1. (plural) a pair of locking metal rings joined by a short bar or chain for securing prisoners, etc
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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 handcuffs



1640s as a decorative addition to a sleeve; 1690s as a type of restraining device, from hand (n.) + cuff (n.). Old English had hondcops "a pair of hand cuffs," but the modern word is a re-invention. The verb is first attested 1720. Related: Handcuffed; handcuffing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper