from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A connected, flexible series of links, typically of metal, used especially for holding objects together or restraining or for transmitting mechanical power.
  • n. Such a set of links, often of precious metal and with pendants attached, worn as an ornament or symbol of office.
  • n. A restraining or confining agent or force.
  • n. Bonds, fetters, or shackles.
  • n. Captivity or oppression; bondage: threw off the chains of slavery.
  • n. A series of closely linked or connected things: a chain of coincidences. See Synonyms at series.
  • n. A number of establishments, such as stores, theaters, or hotels, under common ownership or management.
  • n. A range of mountains.
  • n. Chemistry A group of atoms bonded in a spatial configuration like links in a chain.
  • n. An instrument used in surveying, consisting of 100 linked pieces of iron or steel and measuring 66 feet (20.1 meters). Also called Gunter's chain.
  • n. A similar instrument used in engineering, measuring 100 feet (30.5 meters).
  • n. A unit of measurement equal to the length of either of these instruments.
  • transitive v. To bind or make fast with a chain or chains: chained the dog to a tree.
  • transitive v. To restrain or confine as if with chains: workers who were chained to a life of dull routine.
  • idiom pull To take unfair advantage of someone; deceive or manipulate someone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A series of interconnected rings or links usually made of metal.
  • n. A series of interconnected things.
  • n. A series of stores or businesses with the same brand name.
  • n. A number of atoms in a series, which combine to form a molecule.
  • n. A series of interconnected links of known length, used as a measuring device.
  • n. A long measuring tape.
  • n. A unit of length equal to 22 yards. The length of a Gunter's surveying chain. The length of a cricket pitch. Equal to 20.12 metres. Equal to 4 rods. Equal to 100 links.
  • n. A totally ordered set, esp. a totally ordered subset of a poset.
  • n. A sequence of linked house purchases, each of which is dependent on the preceding and succeeding purchase (said to be "broken" if a buyer or seller pulls out).
  • v. To fasten something with a chain.
  • v. To link multiple items together.
  • v. To secure someone with fetters.
  • v. To obstruct the mouth of a river etc with a chain.
  • v. To relate data items with a chain of pointers.
  • v. To be chained to another data item.
  • v. To measure a distance using a 66-foot long chain, as in land surveying.
  • v. To load and automatically run (a program).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A series of links or rings, usually of metal, connected, or fitted into one another, used for various purposes, as of support, of restraint, of ornament, of the exertion and transmission of mechanical power, etc.
  • n. That which confines, fetters, or secures, as a chain; a bond.
  • n. A series of things linked together; or a series of things connected and following each other in succession.
  • n. An instrument which consists of links and is used in measuring land.
  • n. Iron links bolted to the side of a vessel to bold the dead-eyes connected with the shrouds; also, the channels.
  • n. The warp threads of a web.
  • transitive v. To fasten, bind, or connect with a chain; to fasten or bind securely, as with a chain.
  • transitive v. To keep in slavery; to enslave.
  • transitive v. To unite closely and strongly.
  • transitive v. To measure with the chain.
  • transitive v. To protect by drawing a chain across, as a harbor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fasten, bind, restrain, or fetter with a chain or chains: as, to chain floating logs together; to chain a dog; to chain prisoners.
  • Figuratively
  • To unite firmly; link.
  • To hold by superior force, moral or physical; keep in bondage or slavery; enthrall; enslave.
  • To restrain; hold in check; control.
  • To block up or obstruct with a chain, as a passage or the entrance to a harbor.
  • n. A connected series of links of metal or other material, serving the purposes of a band, cord, rope, or cable in connecting, confining, restraining, supporting, drawing, transmitting mechanical power, etc., or for ornamental purposes.
  • n. Figuratively, that which binds, confines, restrains, fetters, or draws; specifically, in the plural, fetters; bonds; bondage; slavery: as, bound by the chains of evil habit.
  • n. In surveying, a measuring instrument, generally consisting of 100 links, each 7.92 inches (see Gunter's chain, below), or, as commonly in the United States, one foot, in length.
  • n. In weaving, the warp-threads of a web: so called because they form a long series of links or loops.
  • n. A series of things, material or immaterial, linked together; a series, line, or range of things connected or following in succession; a concatenation or coördinate sequence: as, a chain of causes, events, or arguments; a chain of evidence; a chain of mountains or of fortifications.
  • n. In chem., a group of atoms of the same kind assumed to be joined to one another by chemical force without the intervention of atoms of a different kind.
  • n. pl. Naut., strong bars or plates of iron bolted at the lower end to the ship's side, and at the upper end secured to the iron straps of the wooden blocks called deadeyes, by which the shrouds supporting the masts are extended. Formerly, instead of bars, chains were used; hence the name. Same as chain-plates.
  • n. Synonyms See shackle.
  • n. A ruff of recurved feathers adorning the neck of some breeds of pigeons, such as the jacobin.
  • n. An abbreviation of mountain-chain and volcanic chain.
  • n. A collection or continuum which has reference to a certain mode of correspondence such that no one individual or point corresponds to more than one individual or point, this mode of correspondence being thought of as a sort of mapping such that one part of the map may coincide with another, but no part of the collection or continuum mapped is represented twice over on the map.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (business) a number of similar establishments (stores or restaurants or banks or hotels or theaters) under one ownership
  • n. (chemistry) a series of linked atoms (generally in an organic molecule)
  • n. a unit of length
  • n. anything that acts as a restraint
  • n. British biochemist (born in Germany) who isolated and purified penicillin, which had been discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming (1906-1979)
  • n. a linked or connected series of objects
  • v. connect or arrange into a chain by linking
  • n. a series of things depending on each other as if linked together
  • n. a series of (usually metal) rings or links fitted into one another to make a flexible ligament
  • n. a series of hills or mountains
  • v. fasten or secure with chains
  • n. a necklace made by a stringing objects together


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English chaine, from Old French, from Latin catēna.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English chaine, from Old French chaine, chaene ("chain"; Modern French: chaîne), from Latin catēna ("chain"), from Proto-Indo-European *kat- (“to braid, twist; hut, shed”). Cognate with North Frisian ketten ("chain"), Dutch keten ("chain"), Low German Kede ("chain"), German Kette ("chain"), Danish kæde ("chain"), Swedish kedja ("chain"), Icelandic keðja ("chain").


  • These causes of war do not appear, however, to be of the nature of a _chain_, giving us the impression that in order to break the habit of war, all we need do is to discover the weakest link in the chain of causes, break the chain there, and so interrupt the whole mechanism of war-making in the world.

    The Psychology of Nations A Contribution to the Philosophy of History

  • The gneiss of the littoral chain* contains traces of the precious metals (* In the southern branch of this chain which passes by Yusma, Villa de Cura and Ocumare, particularly near Buria, Los Teques and Los Marietas.); and some grains of gold have been found in the mountains of Parima, near the mission of Encaramada.

    Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America, During the Year 1799-1804 — Volume 3

  • II. i.195 (251,4) [usurer's chain] I know not whether the _chain_ was, in our authour's time, the common ornament of wealthy citizens, or whether he satirically uses _usurer_ and _alderman_ as synonymous terms.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • The gangs belt the city like a huge chain from the Battery to Harlem—the collective name of the “chain gang” has been given to their scattered groups in the belief that a much closer connection exists between them than commonly supposed—and the ruffian for whom the East Side has became too hot, has only to step across town and change his name, a matter usually much easier for him than to change his shirt, to find a sanctuary in which to plot fresh outrages.

    XIX. The Harvest of Tares

  • This ubiquitin chain is recognised in the opening of the proteasome.

    The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2004 - Information for the Public

  • I had long suspected that the effect would be non-asymptotic with the length of the chain; that is, that the perturbation of the configuration by the exclusion of one segment of the chain from the space occupied by another would increase without limit as the chain is lengthened.

    Paul J. Flory - Autobiography

  • In contrast the term chain looks much much more manly.

    Writings And Musings

  • There are several online services, most used by the attorneys who clearly show the title chain and any property transfers having taken place in the available public record.


  • Historians use the term chain migration to describe the way past migration encourages present migration: migrants encourage and sponsor friends and relatives to join them.

    AvaxHome RSS:

  • The term chain of command often is used to describe the hierarchy that stretches from the highest to the lowest level commander, and all the intermediate levels inbetween.

    Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium - Recent changes [en]


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  • having a strong chains between friends are really important.

    January 29, 2013

  • It is evident!

    November 8, 2011

  • "11. A collection or continuum which has reference to a certain mode of correspondence such that no one individual or point corresponds to more than one individual or point, this mode of correspondence being thought of as a sort of mapping such that one part of the map may coincide with another, but no part of the collection or continuum mapped is represented twice over on the map. If the map is a part or the whole of what is mapped, that which is mapped is called a chain. Moreover, if P is any part of what is mapped, there may he many parts of the whole collection or continuum mapped, each of which contains P and is a chain. Now that chain which forms a part (or the whole) of every possible chain that contains P is called the chain of P. The term (German kette) was introduced by R. Dedekind, who restricted it to collections; but the idea had long before been derived by Gauss by generalizing the ordinary concept of a map. See mapping. It is evident that if to P be joined the representation of P on the map, and also the representation of that on the map and so on endlessly, the sum of all these will be the chain of P."


    November 7, 2011

  • Skipvia's is also the forester's definition.

    December 5, 2007

  • Unit of length equal to 66 feet, used especially in the U.S. public land surveys. The original measuring instrument (Gunter's chain) was literally a chain consisting of 100 iron links, each 7.92 inches long. Steel-ribbon tapes began to supersede chains around 1900, but surveying tapes are often still called "chains" and measuring with a tape is often called "chaining." The chain is a convenient unit in cadastral surveys because 10 square chains equal 1 acre.

    November 11, 2007

  • Do you mean my rampant abuse of the new skill you taught me, u? Or the ubiquitous presence of reesetee and me on every blasted word page on this site? ;)

    March 6, 2007

  • I love the fact that Chainlink is the first lister of it, followed by myself and chained_bear. My presence in that list was irrelevant to the "chain" theme, until you commented that it's useful, and I am uselessness. The circle is complete. Or, for a better metaphor, the chain. Unfortunately, reesetee, you are the weakest link, goodbye. :-)

    I wonder, should I be concerned about the apparent new Wordie list spam trend I'm seeing? Or just jump on the bandwagon? This kind of marketing isn't quite as obnoxious as most.

    March 6, 2007

  • Oh, what a useful word. :-)

    March 6, 2007