[ span-suh l ]
/ ˈspæn səl /


a noosed rope with which to hobble an animal, especially a horse or cow.

verb (used with object), span·celed, span·cel·ing or (especially British) span·celled, span·cel·ling.

to fetter with or as with a spancel.

Origin of spancel

1600–10; < Low German spansel, derivative of spannen to stretch; see span2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spancel

  • I ordered my servant to spancel the mules, and tether the horse to a shrub by a long rope.

  • Langel; to tie the fore and the hind leg of a cow or goat with a spancel or fetter to prevent it going over fences.

  • As my horse was straying toward the west side of the clearing I went to fetch him back and spancel him near the fort.

    A Virginia Scout|Hugh Pendexter
  • My wrist-cords were loosed, my ankles were fastened only with a spancel, and strong hands jerked me to my feet.

    A Virginia Scout|Hugh Pendexter

British Dictionary definitions for spancel

/ (ˈspænsəl) /


a length of rope for hobbling an animal, esp a horse or cow

verb -cels, -celling or -celled or US -cels, -celing or -celed

(tr) to hobble (an animal) with a loose rope

Word Origin for spancel

C17: from Low German spansel, from spannen to stretch; see span ²
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