I suspect many people here have seen those pens in banks by the tellers, that have lines between them and the counter top, so users can't walk off with them. I am trying to find out what that kind of option is called generally, so that I can try and extend its use to other things intelligently.


I am looking for the industry standard term for these things so I can search for a similarly accoutered pocket lighter. I have a cousin who is becoming senile and do not want him to lose his lighter, or have someone steal it.

  • 1
    Do you have an example sentence where you would use the word? The name for the thing that prevents pens from being stolen might not work if you're trying to refer to something else.
    – Laurel
    Oct 20, 2018 at 2:10
  • 2
    I would call it a "chain".
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 20, 2018 at 2:13
  • "Idiot cord" is one generic reference. It applies to a variety of securing methods intended to stop you from loosing stuff. Croakies are idiot cords. I made idiot cords for my mountaineering gloves. This might fail the "intelligently" part of the question, though.
    – Phil Sweet
    Oct 20, 2018 at 2:22
  • You could call it a frill, an incidental or unimportant feature that's there just its own sake, however it's often ornamental. But, in your case the string attached to the pen has a supposedly non-trivial function to stop people taking the pens, so it's not just a feature that doesn't do anything. As unimportant as the stealing of pens may be, and as unsophisticated as attaching a string to a pen is, and as ridiculous as referring to a piece of string as a "device" is, technically it would be a security device, I think.
    – Zebrafish
    Oct 20, 2018 at 3:55
  • 3
    You could call it a leash
    – Jim
    Oct 20, 2018 at 6:22

3 Answers 3


A tethered pen would likely work.

tether TFD

A rope, chain, cable, or other line for restraining or securing an object

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  • Although @Laurel gave a good example, I have to go with this one since Office Depot's name is a little too vague. I wish I could give you both acceptances.
    – K.A.Monica
    Oct 23, 2018 at 0:21

Not all bank pens use this specific type of cord, but a lot do:

Office Depot sells the above pen under the name "chain pen", however the chain itself is often called either a "bead chain" (after the manufacturer?) or a "ball chain" (after a different manufacturer?) or a "ball bead chain" (splitting the difference?).

Any one of these expressions brings up different sites selling, for example, chains for dog tag necklaces, which you could attach to a lighter with a keychain.

It's also relevant to note that bead chain is in Merriam Webster:

a chain formed of small hollow metal spheres connected by short dumbbell-shaped metal links that is used especially in electric pull sockets and switches


I don't know about pens or lighters, but many electronic devices are equipped with a security slot (sometimes called security port or security anchor) to prevent their theft.

The system consists of a small, metal-reinforced hole found commonly on small or portable computers and electronics equipment such as laptops, computer monitors, desktop computers, gaming consoles, and video projectors, combined with a metal anchor attached to a rubberized metal cable secured with a key or combination lock. The end of the cable has a small loop that allows the cable to be looped around a permanent object, such as a heavy table or other similar equipment.

The hole is found in most laptops, although a lock for it is typically not included.

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