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 British 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 prisoners 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 eastwards.
    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.
  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 shops, hotels, or restaurants that all belong to the same person or company
    Japan’s leading hotel chain
    chain of: a chain of electrical goods shops


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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