fetter


Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 26, 2022 is:

fetter • \FET-er\  • noun

A fetter is a chain or shackle for the feet. Fetter is also used figuratively to refer to something that confines or restrains someone in some way.

// John keeps his smartphone with him when he goes hiking, but Linda leaves hers at home, preferring to free herself temporarily of the fetters of technology.

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Examples:

“The Alaska Constitution was written by a months-long gathering of 55 elected men and women in Fairbanks during the winter of 1955-1956. … They wanted a legislature free of the fetters that hobbled the older state governments—restraints that had prompted a nationwide outcry for constitutional reform in the years prior to the Alaska Constitutional Convention.” — Gordon Harrison, The Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, 24 Apr. 2022

Did you know?

While now used as a more general term for something that confines or restrains, fetter was originally applied specifically to a chain or shackle for the feet. Not surprisingly, the word’s Old English ancestor, feter, is etymologically shackled to fōt, the Old English ancestor of foot. Fetter is also used as a verb with meanings that correspond to the noun’s meanings: a prisoner can be fettered literally, and a person can feel fettered by obligations or responsibilities.


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