1. A device, usually one of a pair of rings connected to a chain, that is attached to the ankles or feet to restrict movement.
2. often fetters Something that serves to restrict; a restraint: the fetters of tyranny.
tr.v. fet·tered, fet·ter·ing, fet·ters
1. To put fetters on; shackle.
2. To restrict or restrain: thinking that is fettered by prejudice. See Synonyms at hobble.
[Middle English feter, from Old English; see ped- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.