1. unable to act as you would wish due to circumstances beyond your control
sorry, I'd like to help you, but my hands are tied
The idiom 'my hands are tied' means that you are restricted or unable to make a decision or act because something or someone else is stopping you from doing so. This idiom is often used in situations where regulations or rules are stopping you from making a simple decision or from helping someone with something. You might want to help someone but tell them that you can't help because your hands are tied. This idiom is also useful when someone is asking you to bend or break the rules to give them special treatment. "I'd love to cancel your fine, but I can't. It's on the system and my hands are tied."