from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A rope used to hobble an animal, as a sheep.
  • transitive v. To hobble with a spancel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a rope or fetter used to hobble a horse or other animal
  • v. to hobble with a spancel

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rope used for tying or hobbling the legs of a horse or cow.
  • transitive v. To tie or hobble with a spancel.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fasten the legs of with a spancel, as those of a cow or horse to prevent the animal from kicking.
  • n. A fastening for the hind legs of a horse or cow, or for the legs on one side, to prevent the animal from kicking or straying; especially, a rope for fettering a cow's hind legs while she is milked; a tether.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Dutch spansel, from spannen, to bind, harness; see span2.


  • He made a spancel-withe [This was a twig twisted in the form of two rings, joined by one straight piece, as used for hobbling horses and cattle.] then before he went, and wrote an ogam on its ----, and threw it on the top of the pillar.

    Táin Bó Cúalnge. English

  • Then Fergus put a spancel-withe through Etarcomol's two heels and took him behind his own chariot to the camp.

    Táin Bó Cúalnge. English

  • [4] And such is the measure of my wounds and my sores that I cannot bear my garments or my clothing to touch my skin, so that [4] spancel-hoops hold my cloak over me.

    The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge

  • As my horse was straying toward the west side of the clearing I went to fetch him back and spancel him near the fort.

    A Virginia Scout

  • With a spancel rope fastened to his ankles Dale was further secured by a long cord tied around one wrist and fastened some fifteen feet up the trimmed sapling.

    A Virginia Scout

  • I asked, seizing the rope which was composed of leather belts and spancel-ropes.

    A Virginia Scout

  • My wrist-cords were loosed, my ankles were fastened only with a spancel, and strong hands jerked me to my feet.

    A Virginia Scout

  • I ordered my servant to spancel the mules, and tether the horse to a shrub by a long rope.

    Pattie's Personal Narrative, 1824--1830


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