\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : physical strength : force used in the phrase with might and mainThe next instant we were away down the river, clawing with might and main to keep out of the woods.— Mark Twain
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

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 Dewer force mains are pipelines that move wastewater from a pump to a water quality treatment center, according to MSD. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Sewer line breaks and spills sewage into Harrods Creek in Oldham County, MSD says," 11 Dec. 2019 Rey, the chief of the ready-to-wear atelier, interprets each and every sketch with the atelier’s petite mains. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "“With Creativity You Can Propose a New Future”: Maria Grazia Chiuri Reveals the Making of Her Dior Spring 2020 Collection," 27 Sep. 2019 Sixty homes were temporarily without gas Tuesday night in the Brainerd neighborhood on the South Side after a construction crew ruptured a gas main, authorities said. Alice Yin,, "No injuries, gas shut down for 60 homes after pipe rupture sparks fire in Brainerd," 26 Nov. 2019 Seven Hills City Engineer Daniel J. Collins said in a recent letter to city council that testing revealed 27 homes on John Glenn Drive had gutter/downspout and/or foundation drains that were infiltrating into the public sanitary sewer main. John Benson, cleveland, "Seven Hills fixing John Glenn Drive flooding issues with $143,000 project," 1 Nov. 2019 The water was closed after a blockage of a city sewer main caused about 750 gallons of wastewater to spill Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills roads, according to Health Care Agency spokesman Anthony Martinez. Daily Pilot, "Closure lifted at Newport’s North Star Beach after sewage spill," 27 Sep. 2019 Federal investigators found a crack in a Con Edison gas main near the site and a separation between that main and a smaller pipe. Jan Ransom, New York Times, "An Illegal Gas Line Killed 2 People. Should the Landlord Go to Prison?," 9 Sep. 2019 Aging mains and subpar meters were causing various issues for Deerfield officials, especially in the mid-2000s, when the village experienced 146 water main breaks in 2004. Steve Sadin,, "Deerfield sees results with efforts to reduce water main breaks, improve meters," 22 Aug. 2019 The service lines connect an individual property to the gas mains., "Prodded by the state Department of Public Utilities, Columbia Gas said Thursday it is inspecting abandoned gas lines in the three Merrimack Valley communities rocked by gas explosions last Sept. 13 that killed one person and damaged dozens of homes and businesses.," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Upon completion, the main area of the park will have amenities like athletic fields, a nature preserve and multi-use pavilion. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "Abe and Lizzie Daily Park planning committee seeks suggestions for community center," 8 Jan. 2020 One of the main reasons BTS originally stood out among their peers and created the century's most powerful fandom was their heavy involvement in their music. Jeff Benjamin, Billboard, "5 Things We Want From BTS' 'Map of the Soul: 7' Album," 8 Jan. 2020 The merch table is also located inside the main performance area. Matt Wake |, al, "Here’s what a concert at VBC’s new music hall is like," 7 Jan. 2020 One of the main reasons Vanderpump Rules has been successful for so many years is that the friend group at the center of it can weather pretty much anything. Lia Beck,, "Stassi & Kristen’s Falling Out May Outlast Vanderpump Rules Season 8," 7 Jan. 2020 Located within the Highland Park school district, the home features an entry flanked by split formal rooms and a main living area with a wall of windows overlooking the saltwater pool and grilling area. Dallas News, "Firm again leads in Park Cities’ sales," 5 Jan. 2020 In the sixties and seventies, East Asia was the main conflict area of the world. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Where Will U.S.-Iran Tensions Play Out? An Interview with Iraq’s President," 5 Jan. 2020 Unique to Sky Princess are a pair of 1,000-square-foot Sky Suites with living room, a dining area, two bedrooms and a 1,000-square-foot balcony that overlooks the main pool area. Peter Knego, USA TODAY, "Cruise ship tour: See inside Sky Princess, Princess Cruises' newest, largest ship," 31 Dec. 2019 The weather service has pushed back the start time for the main area of snow. Joe Taschler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Higher snow totals now include northern Milwaukee suburbs; snow start time is pushed back; evening commute to be impacted north and west," 30 Dec. 2019

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

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Main.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for main


How to pronounce Main (audio)

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
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with main

Spanish Central: Translation of main

Nglish: Translation of main for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of main for Arabic Speakers

Comments on main

What made you want to look up main? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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