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Related to chains: tire chains, Value Chains
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left to right: figaro, sash, and stud links


a. A connected, flexible series of links, typically of metal, used especially for holding objects together, for restraining, or for transmitting mechanical power.
b. Such a set of links, often of precious metal and with pendants attached, worn as an ornament or symbol of office.
c. often chains Football Such a set of links measuring ten yards and attached to a pole at each end, moved up and down the field to indicate necessary yardage for gaining a first down.
2. A restraining or confining agent or force.
3. chains
a. Bonds, fetters, or shackles.
b. Captivity or oppression; bondage: threw off the chains of slavery.
4. A series of closely linked or connected things: a chain of coincidences. See Synonyms at series.
5. A number of establishments, such as stores, theaters, or hotels, under common ownership or management.
6. A range of mountains.
7. Chemistry A series of chemically bonded atoms, especially carbon atoms, which may be arranged in an open, branched, or cyclic structure.
a. An instrument used in surveying, consisting of 100 linked pieces of iron or steel and measuring 66 feet (20.1 meters). Also called Gunter's chain.
b. A similar instrument used in engineering, measuring 100 feet (30.5 meters).
c. Abbr. ch A unit of measurement equal to the length of either of these instruments.
tr.v. chained, chain·ing, chains
1. To bind or make fast with a chain or chains: chained the dog to a tree.
2. To restrain or confine as if with chains: workers who were chained to a life of dull routine.
pull/yank (someone's) chain
To take unfair advantage of someone; deceive or manipulate someone.

[Middle English chaine, from Old French, from Latin catēna.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.chains - metal shackles; for hands or legs
hamper, shackle, trammel, bond - a restraint that confines or restricts freedom (especially something used to tie down or restrain a prisoner)
plural, plural form - the form of a word that is used to denote more than one
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
Collins Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
"The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by their jangling.
Let the reader picture to himself, crowning a limestone hillock, an oblong mass of masonry fifteen feet in height, thirty wide, forty long, with a gate, an external railing and a platform; on this platform sixteen enormous pillars of rough hewn stone, thirty feet in height, arranged in a colonnade round three of the four sides of the mass which support them, bound together at their summits by heavy beams, whence hung chains at intervals; on all these chains, skeletons; in the vicinity, on the plain, a stone cross and two gibbets of secondary importance, which seemed to have sprung up as shoots around the central gallows; above all this, in the sky, a perpetual flock of crows; that was Montfauçon.
Rosanna's journey to Frizinghall, when the whole household believed her to be ill in her own room--Rosanna's mysterious employment of the night-time with her door locked, and her candle burning till the morning--Rosanna's suspicious purchase of the japanned tin case, and the two dog's chains from Mrs.
To them chains were fastened, and at the ends of many of the chains were human skeletons.
First they removed all his weapons and then, snapping a fetter about one of the rykor's ankles, secured him to the end of one of the chains hanging from the walls.
In the middle of the spear you must have two strong chains ten fathoms in length.
I could then undo the lumbering padlocks with which our chains were fastened, whenever I might choose.
On the lower part of a small, mean boat, on the Red river, Tom sat,--chains on his wrists, chains on his feet, and a weight heavier than chains lay on his heart.
Its course is generally through plains, but is twice crossed by chains of mountains; the first called the Littlehorn; the second, the Bighorn.
Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.
Cide Hamete Benengeli, the Arab and Manchegan author, relates in this most grave, high-sounding, minute, delightful, and original history that after the discussion between the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha and his squire Sancho Panza which is set down at the end of chapter twenty-one, Don Quixote raised his eyes and saw coming along the road he was following some dozen men on foot strung together by the neck, like beads, on a great iron chain, and all with manacles on their hands.
We reached the city of Warhoon after some three days march and I was immediately cast into a dungeon and heavily chained to the floor and walls.