1640, from hand + cuff.

Possibly an adaptation of Middle English handcops, from Old English handcops, from hand + cops, cosp ("fetter, chains"), but due to lack of continuity (centuries between Old English and modern term), generally analyzed as a re-invention.

  • IPA: /ˈhændˌkʌf/

handcuff (plural handcuffs)

  1. One ring of a locking fetter for the hand or one pair.
    Synonyms: manacle, wristlet
Translations Verb

handcuff (handcuffs, present participle handcuffing; past and past participle handcuffed)

  1. To apply handcuffs to
    • 1912, Arthur M. Winfield, The Rover Boys in the Air
      The sheriff had brought along all the handcuffs necessary, and in a few seconds he had handcuffed Koswell. He threw a pair of the steel bracelets to Dick and another pair to Tom, and the Rovers had the satisfaction of handcuffing Josiah Crabtree and Tad Sobber. Then the sheriff made prisoners of the rest of the crowd […]
  2. (figuratively) to restrain or restrict.
    Dang, I’m handcuffed by these regulations. I’d like to help but it’d be illegal.
    • 1880, George Bernard Shaw, The Irrational Knot Chapter XVII
      After all, since our marriage has proved a childless one, the only reason for our submitting to be handcuffed to one another, now that our hearts are no longer in the arrangement, is gone.
Synonyms Translations Translations

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