Handcuffs are shackles. So are those leg irons some prisoners wear when they appear in court. In other words, a shackle is a restraint, either physical or psychological, that restricts movement.

We generally think of shackles as some sort of heavy metal cuff that is used to keep prisoners in check. But shackles don't have to be physical. Ignorance can be a shackle, so can an abusive family member, or the economy. In those cases, shackles are an external force that keep you from doing or being everything you want to. You can't see those shackles, but they can be every bit as confining as the metal cuffs.

Definitions of shackle
  1. noun
    a restraint that confines or restricts freedom (especially something used to tie down or restrain a prisoner)
    synonyms: bond, hamper, trammel
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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 retards something's motion
  2. noun
    a U-shaped bar; the open end can be passed through chain links and closed with a bar
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    type of:
    a rigid piece of metal or wood; usually used as a fastening or obstruction or weapon
  3. verb
    restrain with fetters
    synonyms: fetter
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    cuff, handcuff, manacle
    confine or restrain with or as if with manacles or handcuffs
    type of:
    confine, hold, restrain
    to close within bounds, limit or hold back from movement
  4. verb
    bind the arms of
    synonyms: pinion
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    type of:
    confine, hold, restrain
    to close within bounds, limit or hold back from movement
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