- shackles or fetters: to place a prisoner in chains.
- bondage; servitude: to live one's life in chains.
- Nautical. (in a sailing vessel) the area outboard at the foot of the shrouds of a mast: the customary position of the leadsman in taking soundings.
- tire chain.
- a distance-measuring device consisting of a chain of 100 links of equal length, having a total length either of 66 feet (20 meters) (Gunter's chain or surveyor's chain) or of 100 feet (30 meters) (engineer's chain).
- a unit of length equal to either of these.
- a graduated steel tape used for distance measurements. Abbreviation: ch
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- chaillu, paul belloni du,
- chain coral,
- chain drive,
- chain fern,
- chain gang,
- chain gear
Origin of chain
Examples from the Web for chain
You expect soldiers of all ranks to understand the need to respect the chain of command, regardless of personal feelings.
Say what you want about Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), the chain has done something special.
She was also crudely nicknamed “La Boule” in a reference to the ball and chain.
Cars swarm dangerously around them on this two-lane road carved, literally, into the side of a chain of mountains.Heart of Darkness: Into Afghanistan’s Taliban Valley|Matt Trevithick, Daniel Seckman|November 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But the chain of death continued in the family after the burial of their mother.This Man Lost 35 Relatives to Ebola and His Community Wants Him Gone|Wade C.L. Williams|October 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
As far as he could see, chain after chain of mountains heaved themselves into his vision.Moon-Face and Other Stories|Jack London
A chain of snowy peaks stretched from south-west to north-east.An Explorer's Adventures in Tibet|A. Henry Savage Landor
I must declare to you that to us the Czar is not the only chain that fetters the body of the country.Mother|Maksim Gorky
Suddenly her hand went up to the chain around her neck and then down to her belt.The Four Corners Abroad|Amy Ella Blanchard
Then he quieted down and lay very, very still; and the next day the trapper came along and pulled him out by the chain.Forest Neighbors|William Davenport Hulbert
- a number of establishments such as hotels, shops, etc, having the same owner or management
- (as modifier)a chain store
Word Origin for chain
c.1300, from Old French chaeine "chain" (12c., Modern French chaîne), from Latin catena "chain" (source also of Spanish cadena, Italian catena), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *kat- "to twist, twine" (cf. Latin cassis "hunting net, snare").
Figurative use from c.1600. As a type of ornament worn about the neck, from late 14c. Chain of stores is American English, 1846. Chain gang is from 1834; chain reaction is from 1916 in physics, specific nuclear physics sense is from 1938; chain mail first recorded 1822, in Scott, from mail (n.2). Before that, mail alone sufficed. Chain letter recorded from 1892; usually to raise money at first; decried from the start as a nuisance.
Nine out of every ten givers are reluctant and unwilling, and are coerced into giving through the awful fear of "breaking the chain," so that the spirit of charity is woefully absent. ["St. Nicholas" magazine, vol. XXVI, April 1899]
Chain smoker is attested from 1886, originally of Bismarck (who smoked cigars), thus probably a loan-translation of German Kettenraucher. Chain-smoking is from 1930.
late 14c., "to bar with a chain; to put (someone) in chains," also "to link things together," from chain (n.). Related: Chained; chaining.
In addition to the idioms beginning with chain
- chain reaction
- chain smoker
- ball and chain
- pull someone's chain