/ tʃeɪn; NAmE / noun , verb
[ C , U ] 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.
The mayor wore his chain of office.
a bicycle chain
The prisoners were kept in chains (= with chains around their arms and legs, to prevent them from escaping) .
—picture at bicycle , jewellery
[ C ] 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
OF SHOPS / HOTELS
[ C ] a group of shops / stores or hotels owned by the same company :
a chain of supermarkets / a supermarket chain
[ C , usually pl. ] ( formal or literary ) a thing that restricts sb's freedom or ability to do sth :
the chains of fear / misery
IN HOUSE BUYING
[ C , usually sing. ] ( BrE ) a situation in which a number of people selling and buying houses must each complete the sale of their house before buying from the next person
see ball noun , link noun , weak
[ vn ] [ often passive ] chain sb/sth (to sb/sth) | chain sb/sth (up) to fasten sth with a chain; to fasten sb/sth to another person or thing with a chain, so that they do not escape or get stolen :
The doors were always locked and chained.
She chained her bicycle to the gate.
The dog was chained up for the night.
( figurative )
I've been chained to my desk all week (= because there was so much work) .
Middle English : from Old French chaine , chaeine , from Latin catena a chain.