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chain lightning

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noun
  1. Chiefly Northeastern and Western U.S. lightning that seems to move very quickly in wavy or zigzag lines.
  2. bead lightning.

Origin of chain lightning

An Americanism dating back to 1825–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chain lightning

Historical Examples

  • A storm-burst of laughter, mingled with shouts of "By jiminy, but he's chain-lightning!"

    A Double Barrelled Detective Story

    Mark Twain

  • I never 20 saw such a girl as you are for chain-lightning projects!

  • "I wish I had control of chain-lightning for a few minutes," says O., the droll fellow of our company.

  • Anyhow, I found myself riding away straight south as if I were on a streak of chain-lightning.

    Track's End

    Hayden Carruth

  • The trenchant manner, the statuesque drapery, the chain-lightning effects, were much as they were afterwards seen in this country.


British Dictionary definitions for chain lightning

chain lightning

noun
  1. 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