American English

Definition of chain noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    metal rings
  1. 1 [countable, uncountable] a series of connected metal rings, used for pulling or fastening things; a length of chain used for a particular purpose a short length of chain She wore a heavy gold chain around her neck. a bicycle chain The prisoners were kept in chains (= with chains around their arms and legs, to prevent them from escaping). see also key chain
  2. connected things
  3. 2[countable] a series of connected things or people to set in motion a chain of events a chain of command (= a system in an organization by which instructions are passed from one person to another) mountain/island chains Volunteers formed a human chain to rescue precious items from the burning house. see also food chain
  4. of stores/hotels
  5. 3[countable] a group of stores or hotels owned by the same company a chain of supermarkets/a supermarket chain
  6. restriction
  7. 4[countable, usually plural] (formal or literary) a thing that restricts someone's freedom or ability to do something the chains of fear/misery
  8. Idioms
    a ball and chain
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    a problem that prevents you from doing what you would like to do
    a link in the chain
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    one of the stages in a process or a line of argument Food production, processing and marketing are different links in the chain from farmer to consumer. Death is the last link in the chain.
    the weak link (in the chain)
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    the point at which a system or an organization is most likely to fail She went straight for the one weak link in the chain of his argument.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: chain