In Spanish, when a police officer traps a criminal it's called "reduce", i.e. "El policía redució al criminal". The literal translation of "reduce" to English is also reduce, but I believe this is one of the meaning the English word doesn't have (correct me if I'm wrong). Therefore, how should I call the act of a criminal being handcuffed or trapped by the police?

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    Do you mean the actual physical act of putting on the handcuffs, or the larger act of detaining the suspect, which may or may not include physically cuffing? Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 15:57

3 Answers 3



The criminal was arrested by the police.

Arrest does have a legal sense, when the police take somebody's freedom. They would normally handcuff someone when they are arrested.

Alternative possibilities

"Subdue" means "bring under control". Police officers learn to subdue a knife-wielding criminal without lethal force.

"overcome" It took three officers to overcome the violent criminal.

"restrain". The criminal was restrained by one officer while a second called for backup.

The only example I could find online of the use of "reduce" was "la policía redució al atacante a tiros." which seems to indicate that "Police shot the attacker".

  • Thanks, I think the word I was looking for it's more close to subdue, since arresto also exists in spanish and I dont think it's the same than reducir.
    – Pablo
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 14:15
  • I've added an example.
    – James K
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 17:06
  • I'm not convinced by the Spanish but I suppose the idea is subdue, yes. Also criminal is an adjective in Spanish: un acto criminal. Not a noun....a criminal is un criminoso.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 21:24
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    I'm surprised you didn't include handcuff as a verb: The criminal was handcuffed by the police.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 22:12

The question was about putting handcuffs on a person. For that the word must surely be "restrain".

Arrest has a technical meaning in English law, and although @James K is right in saying that the police might well handcuff a person who has been arrested, that is incidental to the legal effect of arrest. It is certain that an arrest can occur without handcuffs being involved in any way. For example a prisoner already in jail for one crime might be arrested for another alleged offence.


The word is detained. You can be cuffed while being detained for questioning and to ensure safety while figuring out a situation.

You can be detained and handcuffed without being legally arrested. The officer has to tell the suspect that they haven't yet been arrested or charged with a crime, that the officer is handcuffing to ensure safety, and that they may be released after the questioning.

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    Hello Robert. This is a good suggestion. I've edited to make your answer address the question, and not the other answers (and also upvoted)
    – James K
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:03
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    A person can be detained without handcuffs. The officer might say, "Wait right here until I come back." Or she might say, "Sit here in the back of the squad car for a moment."
    – EllieK
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 20:35

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