noun, often attributive
\ ˈchān How to pronounce chain (audio) \

Definition of chain

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a series of usually metal links or rings connected to or fitted into one another and used for various purposes (such as support, restraint, transmission of mechanical power, or measurement)
b : a series of links used or worn as an ornament or insignia
c(1) : a measuring instrument of 100 links used in surveying
(2) : a unit of length equal to 66 feet (about 20 meters)
2 : something that confines, restrains, or secures
3a : a series of things linked, connected, or associated together a chain of events a mountain chain
b : a group of enterprises or institutions of the same kind or function usually under a single ownership, management, or control fast-food chains
c : a number of atoms or chemical groups united like links in a chain


chained; chaining; chains

Definition of chain (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to obstruct or protect by a chain
2 : to fasten, bind, or connect with or as if with a chain also : fetter


biographical name
\ ˈchān How to pronounce Chain (audio) \

Definition of Chain (Entry 3 of 3)

Sir Ernst Boris 1906–1979 British (German-born) biochemist

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Examples of chain in a Sentence


We'll need 25 feet of chain for the pulley. The new book chronicles the chain of events leading up to the crime. They own a chain of organic grocery stores. The hotel chain recently opened a new hotel in Hong Kong.


She chained her bicycle to the post and went inside. chaining up the dog in the backyard
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Despite its disastrous takeover of the Homebase home improvement chain in the U.K., Wesfarmers, a conglomerate that has its roots in a Western Australian fertilizer business, has a reputation as a canny buyer and seller of assets. Washington Post, "A Rare-Earth Steal at a 45% Markup," 18 Sep. 2019 The judge agreed that Earnest would not need leg and waist chains in court, based on his cooperation with jail and court deputies so far, but the judge denied the request that Earnest appear in civilian clothes. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Evidence in case involving accused Poway synagogue shooter to be laid out in court," 17 Sep. 2019 Florida doubled its ranks of python hunters last week as the state steps up efforts to tame the invasive species that has long devastated the balance of the natural food chain in the Everglades. Fox News, "Florida doubles python hunters as over 1,000 apply for hourly wage job with bounty incentives," 16 Sep. 2019 The company is partnered with hotel chains such as Hyatt and Fairmont. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Hotel-booking tricks, tips and tools to try if you want to score a deal on your next trip," 16 Sep. 2019 Reuters Strike Off The largest private-sector strike in the U.S. since 2007 has ben averted, after around 47,000 union workers in southern California struck a deal with grocery chains such as Albertsons and Ralphs. David Meyer, Fortune, "Chinese Trade Deal Sentiment: CEO Daily," 13 Sep. 2019 Cross-border supply chains in Europe have more foreign inputs from neighbouring countries than those in Asia or North America. The Economist, "The economic policy at the heart of Europe is creaking," 12 Sep. 2019 Many of the faithful beat their chests and lashed themselves with chains in a symbolic expression of grief and regret for not being able to help Hussein before his martyrdom. Qassim Abdul-zahra And Zeina Karam,, "Officials: At least 31 Iraqi pilgrims die in stampede during holiday," 10 Sep. 2019 In 2004, an investigation by then-New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer turned up extensive evidence of the practice, resulting in an agreement by the major record labels along with several radio chains to pay millions of dollars in settlements. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, "FCC Commissioner Asks RIAA to Investigate Payola Allegations," 5 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Two of the arrests were for people who chained themselves to the entrances of the capitol. CBS News, "California Governor Gavin Newsom signs bill limiting vaccine exemptions," 9 Sep. 2019 Tyree brought Kozakiewicz to his home in Virginia and held her in captivity for four days, raping and beating her and chaining her to the floor by a dog collar. Diana Pearl,, "How Jayme Closs, Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and Others Survived Headline-Making Abductions," 19 Aug. 2019 Earlier that day, six Extinction Rebellion protesters had been arrested after chaining themselves to the entrance of a cement factory in East London. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Does Extinction Rebellion Have the Solution to the Climate Crisis?," 21 July 2019 The ongoing protests began Monday and have been marked with some demonstrators chaining themselves to a cattle guard in the middle of the road, KHON2 reported. Fox News, "Police in Hawaii reportedly arresting protesters in standoff over construction of Mauna Kea telescope," 18 July 2019 Other big food companies are also trying to make their supply chains more sustainable. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Nestlé plans to reduce greenhouse gases across its supply chain," 12 Sep. 2019 Perhaps more important is how the game's combat arenas don't have to be as logically chained together as in previous, straight-line entries. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Gears 5 review: An obvious gaming recommendation—if you already paid for it," 10 Sep. 2019 Gluay Hom spent years chained up inside a barren enclosure in Thailand August 12 is World Elephant Day! Kelli Bender,, "Exploited Elephant Gets Loving New Home Just in Time for World Elephant Day," 12 Aug. 2019 West Virginia Rainelle: Police say three protesters who chained themselves to equipment at the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been arrested. USA TODAY, "Disney surprise, foreign feral hogs, porous pavement: News from around our 50 states," 13 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chain


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chain


Middle English cheyne, from Anglo-French chaene, from Latin catena

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Learn More about chain

Dictionary Entries near chain


chai latte




chain armor

chain banking

Statistics for chain

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chain

The first known use of chain was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for chain



English Language Learners Definition of chain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a series of usually metal links or rings that are connected to each other in a line and used for supporting heavy things, for holding things together, for decoration, etc.
: a chain that is attached to the arms or legs of a prisoner
: a series or group of things or people that are connected to each other in some way



English Language Learners Definition of chain (Entry 2 of 2)

: to fasten, hold, or connect (someone or something) with a chain


\ ˈchān How to pronounce chain (audio) \

Kids Definition of chain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a series of connected links or rings usually of metal She wore a gold chain around her neck.
2 : a series of things joined together as if by links a chain of mountains a chain of events
3 : a group of businesses that have the same name and sell the same products or services a chain of grocery stores


chained; chaining

Kids Definition of chain (Entry 2 of 2)

: to fasten, bind, or connect with or as if with a chain I chained my bike to a tree.


\ ˈchān How to pronounce chain (audio) \

Medical Definition of chain

1 : a series of things (as bacteria) linked, connected, or associated together
2 : a number of atoms or chemical groups united like links in a chain

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More from Merriam-Webster on chain

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chain

Spanish Central: Translation of chain

Nglish: Translation of chain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chain for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about chain

Comments on chain

What made you want to look up chain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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