\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : physical strength : force used in the phrase with might and main The next instant we were away down the river, clawing with might and main to keep out of the woods.— Mark Twain
2a : mainland
b : high sea
3 : the chief part : essential point they are in the main well-trained
4 : a pipe, duct, or circuit which carries the combined flow of tributary branches of a utility system
5a : mainmast
b : mainsail



Definition of main (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : chief, principal the main idea
2 : fully exerted : sheer main force by main strength
3 obsolete : of or relating to a broad expanse (as of sea)
4 : connected with or located near the mainmast or mainsail
5 : expressing the chief predication in a complex sentence the main clause

Examples of main in a Sentence

Noun My radio runs either off batteries or off the mains. Turn off the water at the mains. Adjective Speed is the main advantage of this approach. The company's main office is located in New York. driving down the main road This dish can be served as a main course or appetizer. And now for the main event of the evening! See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There are 5 layers of robust flavors in this delicious vegan main — mushrooms, celery, parsnips, butternut squash, and plenty of potatoes. Taylor Worden, Good Housekeeping, 28 Apr. 2022 According to the city of Long Beach, the spill of 2 million to 4 million gallons of waste was caused by the failure of a 48-inch sewer main in Carson on Thursday. Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec. 2021 The second phase, to take place in 2022, will install a new 42-inch diameter main at Frankfort and Reservoir avenues. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, 4 Jan. 2022 The Luhansk Information Center said one of the blasts was in a natural gas main. Dasha Litvinova,, 19 Feb. 2022 The Luhansk Information Center said one of the blasts was in a natural gas main., 19 Feb. 2022 Dozens of personnel have worked to find the transmission main's shutoff valves to completely turn it off. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, 9 Feb. 2022 The steakhouse classic, traditionally prepared tableside, gets the grill treatment here and makes for a great main for a V-day date. Magdalena O'neal, Sunset Magazine, 28 Jan. 2022 Bagley said the main was shut down and several buildings in the area were without water service. Emily Sweeney,, 11 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In old Batumi, the main streets lead to the port — hence its renown as a city that looks at the sea. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 15 May 2022 It's been the backdrop for the show, and during the latest season, when Matt bought Amy out of her share of the farm, was one of the family's main storylines. Good Housekeeping Editors, Good Housekeeping, 15 May 2022 There have also been multiple lawsuits filed over opposition to the vaccine mandate, with the main focus being the fact that very few religious exemptions had been granted. Landon Mion, Fox News, 14 May 2022 The serpent, once the main focus of the lead characters, recedes from view, as the personal journeys and relationships between the characters come to the fore. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 May 2022 But some progress is being made and his main focus. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 12 May 2022 And although the main focus is raising awareness, volunteers make referrals to professional psychiatrists when necessary. Ogar Monday, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2022 If winter hiking is your main focus, waterproofing and insulation are going to be crucial. Lauren Breedlove, Travel + Leisure, 6 May 2022 Women For Women International's main focus is women who survived or fled wars and conflicts. Ryan Bergeron, CNN, 4 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'main.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of main


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for main


in sense 1, from Middle English, from Old English mǣgen; akin to Old High German magan strength, Old English magan to be able; in other senses, from main entry 2 or by shortening — more at may entry 1


Middle English, from Old English mǣgen-, from mǣgen strength

Learn More About main

Time Traveler for main

Time Traveler

The first known use of main was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near main




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for main

Last Updated

4 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Main.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for main


\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Kids Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: first in size, rank, or importance : chief Go in the main entrance. What's the main reason?

Other Words from main

mainly adverb



Kids Definition of main (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the chief part : essential point The new workers are in the main well trained.
2 : a principal line, tube, or pipe of a utility system water main gas main
3 : high seas
4 : physical strength : force So they stood … both shoving with might and main— Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Main geographical name

\ ˈmīn How to pronounce Main (audio) , ˈmān \

Definition of Main

river 325 miles (523 kilometers) long in south central Germany rising in northern Bavaria in the Fichtelgebirge and flowing west into the Rhine River

More from Merriam-Webster on main

Nglish: Translation of main for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of main for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!