\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 3)

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


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

Definition of Main (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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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!
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Elliott said those pipes are just a fraction of the cost of a sewer main, which can cost $1 million per mile just to install. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Black Belt sewage woes: Feds give $4.9M for rural wastewater project," 14 Mar. 2021 That is more than 10,000 connections, meaning water lines or pipes connected to a distribution supply main, with most serving multiple people, Associated Press reported. Marlene Lenthang, ABC News, "Water slowly returns to Jackson, Mississippi residents but boil order remains," 5 Mar. 2021 Bernard Edelman, an attorney representing FER-PAL, said a temporary main is laid along the roadway to assure continued service to customers during the project. Steve Sadin,, "Robots make Waukegan water main work less intrusive, more effective," 19 Oct. 2020 Build to last 80 years, the new main is built inside the old one. Unlike similar projects in the past, motorists would see a dug up road and piles of dirt the length of the construction. Steve Sadin,, "Robots make Waukegan water main work less intrusive, more effective," 19 Oct. 2020 Residents of seven subdivisions near Madisonville were cautioned Tuesday night to boil tap water before drinking it because a Faubourg Water System contractor broke an 8-inch main near Black River Bridge. Drew Broach | Staff Writer,, "Seven subdivisions near Madisonville advised to boil water before drinking," 22 Dec. 2020 The water bureau stated the pipe is a cast iron four-inch main installed in the 1950s. oregonlive, "Water main break closes section of SE Market at 122nd," 17 Dec. 2020 Grateful to the State Board of Canvassers in the main for doing their job. NBC News, "How Trump's legal battles to overturn the election undermine the Black vote," 24 Nov. 2020 This is the savory tart to end all savory tarts, the dish that sets a new (high) bar for what a celebratory vegetarian main should look like. Washington Post, "Vegetarian and vegan main dishes to anchor your Thanksgiving menu," 20 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The actor, 56, will be the narrator for the pilot episode, voicing the adult version of the main character, Dean. Mary Colurso |, al, "Don Cheadle joins cast of ‘Wonder Years’ reboot set in Alabama," 27 Mar. 2021 Just like in the original, the show will be told via a series of narrations by a future version of the main character. Omar Sanchez,, "The Wonder Years reboot: Everything we know so far," 26 Mar. 2021 Splash president Emma Curzon cited lawsuits filed by Harry and Meghan as one of the main reasons the agency can't pay its bills. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan's lawsuits send paparazzi agency Splash into bankruptcy court," 25 Mar. 2021 In his only role as an actor, Tumlin played Walker Bobby, the 10-year-old son of Will Ferrell’s main character Ricky Bobby. Haley Bosselman,, "Houston Tumlin, ‘Talladega Nights’ child actor, dies at 28," 24 Mar. 2021 The main character in her novel is Reiko Kenmochi, a 28-year-old lawyer who has ambitions for success and wealth. Washington Post, "She faced toxic male bonding and crippling work hours. Her debut novel calls out Japanese men.," 23 Mar. 2021 For a better look, here’s a breakdown of the S&P performance in 2021 by sector: There are two main reasons tech stocks have fallen out of favor. Dan Runkevicius, Forbes, "This Mistake Can Wipe Out Your $1,400 Stimulus Check," 19 Mar. 2021 One of the main reasons the Timberwolves rank 26th in the NBA in defensive efficiency is their defensive rebounding, which ranks last in rebounding percentage (.705). Chris Hine, Star Tribune, "Timberwolves ponder how to make best use of Karl-Anthony Towns' rebounding," 18 Mar. 2021 The main reasons the association closed its pools last summer were safety concerns and financial issues., "Columbia Association to permanently shut down Haven on the Lake, keep 8 pools closed this summer," 18 Mar. 2021

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.

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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

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Learn More about main

Time Traveler for main

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for main

Last Updated

17 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Main.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for main



English Language Learners Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the largest pipe in a system of connected pipes
: the system of pipes or wires for electricity, gas, or water
: the place where electricity, gas, or water enters a building or room



English Language Learners Definition of main (Entry 2 of 2)

: most important


\ 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, Tom Sawyer

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More from Merriam-Webster on main

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for main

Nglish: Translation of main for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of main for Arabic Speakers

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