Old English fetor "chain or shackle by which a person or animal is bound by the feet," figuratively "check, restraint," from Proto-Germanic *fetero (source also of Old Saxon feteros (plural), Middle Dutch veter "fetter," in modern Dutch "lace, string," Old High German fezzera, Old Norse fiöturr, Swedish fjätter "fetter"), from PIE root *ped- "foot." The generalized sense of "anything that shackles" had evolved in Old English. Related Fetters.
c. 1300, from Old English gefetrian, from the noun (see fetter (n.)). Related: Fettered; fettering.
updated on May 06, 2017