See more synonyms for tether on Thesaurus.com
  1. a rope, chain, or the like, by which an animal is fastened to a fixed object so as to limit its range of movement.
  2. the utmost length to which one can go in action; the utmost extent or limit of ability or resources.
verb (used with object)
  1. to fasten or confine with or as if with a tether.
  2. Digital Technology. to use (an electronic device, usually a smartphone or tablet) to enable a wireless Internet connection on another nearby device, often a laptop: There's no wi-fi, so I'll have to tether my phone to my laptop.
verb (used without object)
  1. Digital Technology. to use an electronic device to enable a wireless Internet connection on another device.
  1. at the end of one's tether, at the end of one's resources, patience, or strength.

Origin of tether

1350–1400; Middle English (noun); compare Old Norse tjōthr, Dutch tuier
Related formsun·teth·ered, adjectiveun·teth·er·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tether

Contemporary Examples of tether

Historical Examples of tether

  • It seemed to me that at last I had run to the end of my tether.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

  • If you'll unpack the mare and tether her, Haggis, we can see aboot the fire and the meat.

    The Fiery Totem

    Argyll Saxby

  • When he was pretty nearly at the end of his tether he came back to England.

  • They are also beyond the tether of my subject, which I fear I have already overstrained.

  • Devers had run to the end of his tether, said Boynton, unfeelingly.

    Under Fire

    Charles King

British Dictionary definitions for tether


  1. a restricting rope, chain, etc, by which an animal is tied to a particular spot
  2. the range of one's endurance, etc
  3. at the end of one's tether distressed or exasperated to the limit of one's endurance
  1. (tr) to tie or limit with or as if with a tether

Word Origin for tether

C14: from Old Norse tjothr; related to Middle Dutch tūder tether, Old High German zeotar pole of a wagon
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 tether

late 14c., "rope for fastening an animal," probably from Old Norse tjoðr "tether," from Proto-Germanic *teudran (cf. Danish tøir, Swedish tjuder, Old Frisian tiader, Middle Dutch tuder, Dutch tuier "line, rope," Old High German zeotar "pole of a cart"), from PIE root *deu- "to fasten" + instrumentive suffix *-tro-. Figurative sense of "measure of one's limitations" is attested from 1570s.


late 15c., from tether (n.). Related: Tethered; tethering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tether


see end of one's rope (tether).

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