See also: Chain and cháin


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A metal chain
A chain of daisies
Molecular chain for acrylic


From Middle English cheyne, chaine, from Old French chaine, chaene (chain), from Latin catēna (chain), from Proto-Indo-European *kat- (to braid, twist; hut, shed). Doublet of catena.


  • IPA(key): /ˈt͡ʃeɪn/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪn


chain (plural chains)

  1. A series of interconnected rings or links usually made of metal.
    He wore a gold chain around the neck.
    The anchor is connected to the boat with a 100-metre long chain.
  2. A series of interconnected things.
    a chain of mountains
    a chain of ideas, one leading to the next
    This led to an unfortunate chain of events.
  3. A series of stores or businesses with the same brand name.
    That chain of restaurants is expanding into our town.
  4. (chemistry) A number of atoms in a series, which combine to form a molecule.
    When examined, the molecular chain included oxygen and hydrogen.
  5. (surveying) A series of interconnected links of known length, used as a measuring device.
  6. (surveying) A long measuring tape.
  7. 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, 4 rods, or 100 links.
    • 1938, Xavier Herbert, Capricornia, New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1943, Chapter X, p. 177, [1]
      "But it's too far—must be a quarter of a mile—and I've a portmanteau to carry." []
      "Garn!" shouted the guard. "Taint ten chain. [] "
  8. (mathematics, set theory, order theory) A totally ordered set, especially a totally ordered subset of a poset.
    • 2003, Jeremy P. Spinrad, Efficient Graph Representations, American Mathematical Society, page 108,
      We first find an approximation of the chain partition, i.e. a small but not minimum size set of chains which cover all elements of the poset.
  9. (Britain) 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).
  10. That which confines, fetters, or secures; a bond.
    the chains of habit
  11. (nautical, in the plural) Iron links bolted to the side of a vessel to bold the dead-eyes connected with the shrouds; also, the channels.
  12. (weaving) The warp threads of a web.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)



Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


chain (third-person singular simple present chains, present participle chaining, simple past and past participle chained)

  1. (transitive) To fasten something with a chain.
    You should chain your bicycle to the railings to protect it from being stolen.
  2. (figuratively) To connect as if with a chain, due to dependence, addiction, or other feelings
    Sometimes I feel like I'm chained to this computer.
    She's been chained to her principles since she was 18, it's unlikely you can convince her otherwise.
  3. (intransitive) To link multiple items together.
  4. (transitive) To secure someone with fetters.
  5. (transitive) To obstruct the mouth of a river etc with a chain.
  6. (figuratively) To obligate.
    • 2017 August 13, Brandon Nowalk, “Oldtown offers one last game-changing secret as Game Of Thrones goes behind enemy lines (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[2]:
      I miss when Game Of Thrones was wide open, but even then, the writers were chained to a narrative they didn’t yet know the ending of and feared straying too far from.
  7. (computing) To relate data items with a chain of pointers.
  8. (computing) To be chained to another data item.
    • 2016 January 15, Mark Papadakis, “Coroutines and Fibers. Why and When”, in Medium[3]:
      You don’t need to maintain state, or partition execution into different objects that then you can chain together (one executes the other on completion — chained continuations).
  9. (transitive) To measure a distance using a 66-foot long chain, as in land surveying.
  10. (transitive, computing, rare, associated with Acorn Computers) To load and automatically run (a program).
    • 1996, "Mr D Walsh", Running two programs from a batch file (on newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.misc)
      How do you get one program to chain another? I want to run DrawWorks2 then !Draw but as soon as you run Drawworks2 it finishes the batch file and doesn't go on to the next instruction! Is there a way without loading one of these automatic loaders?
    • 1998, "Juan Flynn", BBC software transmitted on TV - how to load? (on newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.misc)
      You can do LOAD "" or CHAIN "" to load or chain the next program if I remember correctly (it's been a loooong time since I've used a tape on an Acorn!)
    • 2006, "Richard Porter", SpamStamp double headers (on newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.apps)
      Recent versions of AntiSpam no longer use the Config file but have a Settings file instead, so when I updated the Config file to chain SpamStamp it had no effect as it was a redundant file.

Derived termsEdit



Further readingEdit






  1. Aspirate mutation of cain.


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
cain gain nghain chain
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.