• tether •
Pronunciation: te-thêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A rope or chain used to restrict the range of movement, as 'a tether holding a blimp in place'. 2. Restriction, measure of one's limitation, as 'to be at the end of her tether'.
Notes: Most dictionaries limit the use of a tether to animals, but we may tether kids, balloons—anything we wish to limit in range of movement. This noun may be used as a verb, as 'to tether something to a pole'. A rarely used adjective, tethery, means "clinging, hard to separate".
In Play: This word usually refers to a line used to restrain movement: "I can't go anywhere without keeping my kid on a tether." However, it does also function as a measure of our limitations: "I had to go to the length of my tether to get this for you."
Word History: Tether is probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Danish tøjr "rope", Swedish tjuder "tether", and Dutch tuier "line, rope". According to Etymonline, these words all derive from PIE root deu- "to fasten" + -tro, an instrumental suffix. Unfortunately, no Indo-European etymological dictionary has an entry for this root, including Etymonline. (Now it's time to thank William Hupy, him of the untethered vocabulary, for recommending we do today's Good Word.)