- The definition of a shackle is a literal or figurative restraint that keeps you in place or prevents you from doing what you want.
- The chains that bind a prisoner's hands to his ankles are an example of a shackle.
- If you believe you can't achieve your dreams, this belief is an example of a shackle.
This man is in shackles.
- a metal fastening, usually one of a linked pair, for the wrist or ankle of a prisoner; fetter; manacle
- anything that restrains freedom of expression or action: the shackles of ignorance
- any of several devices used in fastening or coupling
Origin of shackleMiddle English schakel ; from Old English sceacel, akin to Middle Dutch schakel, chain link ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Indo-European base an unverified form (s)kenk-, to gird, bind
- A device, usually one of a pair connected to a chain, that encircles the ankle or wrist of a prisoner or captive.
- A hobble for an animal.
- Any of several devices, such as a clevis, used to fasten or couple.
- often shackles A restraint or check on action or progress: “throwing off the puritanical shackles” (Ben Yagoda).
transitive verbshack·led, shack·ling, shack·les
- To put shackles on (someone); confine with shackles.
- To fasten or connect with a shackle.
- To restrict, confine, or hamper. See Synonyms at hobble.
Origin of shackleMiddle English schackel, from Old English sceacel, fetter.
- A restraint fit over a human or animal appendage, such as a wrist, ankle or finger. Usually used in plural, to indicate a pair joined by a chain; a hobble.
- A U-shaped piece of metal secured with a pin or bolt across the opening, or a hinged metal loop secured with a quick-release locking pin mechanism.
- (figuratively, usually in plural) A restraint on one's action, activity, or progress.
- A fetter-like band worn as an ornament.
- A link for connecting railroad cars; a drawlink or draglink.
(third-person singular simple present shackles, present participle shackling, simple past and past participle shackled)
From Middle English schakkyl, schakle, from Old English sceacel, sceacul, scacul (“shackle, bond, fetter”), from Proto-Germanic *skakulaz (“shackle”), from Proto-Indo-European *skeg-, *skek- (“to jump, move, shake, stir”), equivalent to shake + -le. Cognate with Dutch schakel (“link, shackle, clasp”), German Schäckel (“shackle”), Danish skagle (“a carriage trace”), Swedish skakel (“the loose shaft of a carriage”), Icelandic skökull (“a carriage pole”).