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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — fetter

Good afterlnoon, Netizens..,

March 18, 2013

Word of the Day

  • fetter
  • audio pronunciation
  • \FET-er\


: a chain or shackle for the feet
: something that confines : restraint

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

"At the moment, legally speaking, Internet cafes operate in Ohio without fetter or review." — From an editorial by Thomas Suddes in The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, December 2, 2012


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." Both words have a long history in the English language, dating back to the early 9th century, and are chained to Sanskrit "pad," Latin "ped-" and "pes," Greek "pod-" and "pous," Gothic "fotus," Norse "fōtr," and Old High German "fuoz."

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.