Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

chain - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun chain pronunciation in American English /tʃeɪn/
Word Forms
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [countable/uncountable] a series of metal rings connected to each other, used for fastening, pulling, or lifting things

    There was a rusty iron chain hanging from the gate.

    The crate was secured with a strong chain.

    1. a.
      [countable] a series of small metal rings connected to each other that is worn as a decoration

      She wore a delicate gold chain around her neck.

    2. c.
      [countable] [usually plural] a long series of heavy metal rings fastened like a rope to a prisoner’s arms and legs
      in chains:

      Women prisoners were kept in chains during childbirth.

  2. 2
    [countable] a series of things of the same type that form a connected line
    chain of:

    In 1910 there was a proposal for a chain of telegraph stations to link up the empire.

    The region includes Sumatra, Java, and a chain of smaller islands extending eastward.

    1. a.
      a group of people that form a line
      human chain (=a line of people):

      Firefighters formed a human chain to carry the injured climbers to safety.

    2. b.
  3. 3
    [countable] a long series of events, facts, or ideas that are all related to each other
    chain of:

    a chain of events that eventually led to murder

    The virus becomes weaker as it passes down the chain of infection.

  4. 4
    [countable] a group of businesses such as stores, hotels, or restaurants that all belong to the same person or company

    Japan’s leading hotel chain

    chain of:

    a chain of appliance stores

  5. 5
    [countable] British a situation in which you cannot sell your house until the person whose house you are buying has bought their new house. This situation can involve many people because the sale of each person’s house depends on the sale of the next.

sea lion

in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an electric skateboard

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play