To trammel is to hamper or hinder — in other words, to keep someone from doing something. People in your neighborhood might lobby for speed bumps in order to trammel speeding cars.

When you use trammel as a verb, you’re either talking about limiting or catching, like when a fisherman trammels cod in a net. As a noun, a trammel is some kind of restraint. There’s the trammel that’s used by horse trainers to restrain a horse and slow its gait, and the trammel that’s basically a fishing net. The latter is the original meaning of trammel, from the Latin roots tri-, “three,” and macula, “mesh.”

Definitions of trammel
  1. verb

    place limits on (extent or access)

    bound, confine, limit, restrain, restrict, throttle
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    reduce, tighten

    narrow or limit

    limit or restrict to

    restrict (school boys’) movement to the dormitory or campus as a means of punishment
    draw a line, draw the line

    reasonably object (to) or set a limit (on)
    mark off, mark out

    set boundaries to and delimit
    harness, rein, rule

    keep in check
    baffle, regulate

    check the emission of (sound)
    cramp, halter, hamper, strangle

    prevent the progress or free movement of
    constrain, stiffen, tighten, tighten up

    clamp down, crack down

    repress or suppress (something regarded as undesirable)
    constrict, inhibit

    limit the range or extent of
    constrain, cumber, encumber, restrain

    hold back

    put a bridle on

    keep to the curb

    impede the motion of, as with a chain or a burden
    type of:

    check, contain, control, curb, hold, hold in, moderate

    lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits

  2. verb

    catch in or as if in a trap

    ensnare, entrap, snare, trap
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    trap with a snare
    type of:

    capture, catch

    capture as if by hunting, snaring, or trapping

  3. noun

    a restraint that is used to teach a horse to amble

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    type of:

    constraint, restraint

    a device that impede’s something’s motion

  4. noun

    a restraint that confines or restricts freedom (especially something used to tie down or restrain a prisoner)

    bond, hamper, shackle
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    ball and chain

    heavy iron ball attached to a prisoner by a chain
    fetter, hobble

    a shackle for the ankles or feet
    cuff, handcuff, handlock, manacle

    shackle that consists of a metal loop that can be locked around the wrist; usually used in pairs
    chains, irons

    metal shackles; for hands or legs
    type of:

    constraint, restraint

    a device that impede’s something’s motion

  5. noun

    a fishing net with three layers; the outer two are coarse mesh and the loose inner layer is fine mesh

    trammel net
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    type of:

    fishing net, fishnet

    a net that will enclose fish when it is pulled in

  6. noun

    an adjustable pothook set in a fireplace

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    type of:


    an S-shaped hook to suspend a pot over a fire

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