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chain lightning

Chiefly Northeastern and Western U.S. lightning that seems to move very quickly in wavy or zigzag lines.
Origin of chain lightning
An Americanism dating back to 1825-35 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for chain lightning
Historical Examples
  • "He sartinly is chain lightning in pants," confided Dolph to Otie.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • Big as the side of a house and quicker than chain lightning.

    The Amazing Inheritance Frances R. Sterrett
  • She knows she's as quick as chain lightning, and she's chockful of confidence.

    Hope Hathaway Frances Parker
  • I hollered at him, expectin' to see him turn tail like chain lightning.

  • I gathered another impression, and it was that bonefish were related to dynamite and chain lightning.

    Tales of Fishes Zane Grey
  • chain lightning is swift, in long rippling lines looking like links of a chain.

    The Woodcraft Girls at Camp

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • Miss Shaw then made her wit play around the legal male mind like chain lightning.

  • He rushed down the streets after an item, dodging in and out of stores and offices like a streak of chain lightning having a fit.

    In Our Town William Allen White
  • They were softened only by shots of brown, which ran like chain lightning through them.

    From the Valley of the Missing Grace Miller White
  • "Your brain worked like blades of chain lightning," she said with real enthusiasm.

    Mrs. Balfame

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
British Dictionary definitions for chain lightning

chain lightning

another name for forked lightning
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for chain lightning

chain lightning

noun phrase

Inferior whiskey (1843+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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