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chain lightning

Chiefly Northeastern and Western U.S. lightning that seems to move very quickly in wavy or zigzag lines.
Origin of chain lightning
1825-35, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for chain-lightning
Historical Examples
  • The trenchant manner, the statuesque drapery, the chain-lightning effects, were much as they were afterwards seen in this country.

    Is Polite Society Polite? Julia Ward Howe
  • A storm-burst of laughter, mingled with shouts of "By jiminy, but he's chain-lightning!"

  • I never 20 saw such a girl as you are for chain-lightning projects!

  • "I wish I had control of chain-lightning for a few minutes," says O., the droll fellow of our company.

  • Anyhow, I found myself riding away straight south as if I were on a streak of chain-lightning.

    Track's End Hayden Carruth
  • He was slow of speech, chain-lightning in action, respected generally, feared a lot.

    Big Timber Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • We have mid-day dinner, which Olie bolts in silence and with the rapidity of chain-lightning.

    The Prairie Wife Arthur Stringer
British Dictionary definitions for chain-lightning

chain lightning

another name for forked lightning
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-lightning

chain lightning

noun phrase

Inferior whiskey (1843+)

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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