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chain gang

a group of convicts chained together, especially when working outside.
Origin of chain gang
1825-35 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for chain-gang
Historical Examples
  • This is the “chain-gang,” so called once in scoffing ignorance of the humane purpose the contrivance serves.

    How the Other Half Lives Jacob A. Riis
  • To begin: why did you send those four prisoners out with the chain-gang?

    The Free Lances Mayne Reid
  • Some of the largest farms in the South are operated by chain-gang labour.

    Following the Color Line Ray Stannard Baker
  • My idea was to let that chain-gang get out of sight before I climbed the hill.

    Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
  • But Moses must hurry, for the word had gone forth that the brothers were to be sent South, and the chain-gang was being collected.

  • There were upward of two hundred of us, and they let us out like a chain-gang, one by one.

    The Coast of Chance Esther Chamberlain
  • In San Francisco a prison is in course of erection by the labor of felons condemned to the chain-gang.

  • In half an hour the chain-gang starts for the mines, and you are one of them.

    The Slave of the Mine Bracebridge Hemyng
  • He got rid o' the chain-gang men altogether, and hired none but men o' the best character in their place.

    Blown to Bits Robert Michael Ballantyne
  • From the vessel I observed the chain-gang at work on the levee.

    Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup
British Dictionary definitions for chain-gang

chain gang

(US) a group of convicted prisoners chained together, usually while doing hard labour
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for chain-gang

chain gang

noun phrase

The football officials who carry and set the chain that marks off the ten yards needed for a first down (1980s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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