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c.1300, from Old French chaeine "chain" (12c., Modern French chaîne), from Latin catena "chain" (source also of Spanish cadena, Italian catena), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *kat- "to twist, twine" (cf. Latin cassis "hunting net, snare").
Figurative use from c.1600. As a type of ornament worn about the neck, from late 14c. Chain of stores is American English, 1846. Chain gang is from 1834; chain reaction is from 1916 in physics, specific nuclear physics sense is from 1938; chain mail first recorded 1822, in Scott, from mail (n.2). Before that, mail alone sufficed. Chain letter recorded from 1892; usually to raise money at first; decried from the start as a nuisance.
Nine out of every ten givers are reluctant and unwilling, and are coerced into giving through the awful fear of "breaking the chain," so that the spirit of charity is woefully absent. ["St. Nicholas" magazine, vol. XXVI, April 1899]Chain smoker is attested from 1886, originally of Bismarck (who smoked cigars), thus probably a loan-translation of German Kettenraucher. Chain-smoking is from 1930.
late 14c., "to bar with a chain; to put (someone) in chains," also "to link things together," from chain (n.). Related: Chained; chaining.
A group of atoms covalently bonded in a spatial configuration like links in a chain.
A linear arrangement of living things such as cells or bacteria.
Chain (chān), Ernst Boris. 1906-1979.
German-born British biochemist. He shared a 1945 Nobel Prize for isolating and purifying penicillin, discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming.
A group of atoms, often of the same element, bound together in a line, branched line, or ring to form a molecule. ◇ In a straight chain, each of the constituent atoms is attached to other single atoms, not to groups of atoms. ◇ In a branched chain, side groups are attached to the chain. ◇ In a closed chain, the atoms are arranged in the shape of a ring.
(1.) A part of the insignia of office. A chain of gold was placed about Joseph's neck (Gen. 41:42); and one was promised to Daniel (5:7). It is used as a symbol of sovereignty (Ezek. 16:11). The breast-plate of the high-priest was fastened to the ephod by golden chains (Ex. 39:17, 21). (2.) It was used as an ornament (Prov. 1:9; Cant. 1:10). The Midianites adorned the necks of their camels with chains (Judg. 8:21, 26). (3.) Chains were also used as fetters wherewith prisoners were bound (Judg. 16:21; 2 Sam. 3:34; 2 Kings 25:7; Jer. 39:7). Paul was in this manner bound to a Roman soldier (Acts 28:20; Eph. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:16). Sometimes, for the sake of greater security, the prisoner was attached by two chains to two soldiers, as in the case of Peter (Acts 12:6).