main

noun
\ 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

main

adjective

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

Main

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

Starters such as the muscular blue crab beignets hold their own with malt vinegar dressing, while the turtle bolognese is a standout on the list of mains. Paul Oswell, Condé Nast Traveler, "21 Best Restaurants in New Orleans," 28 Feb. 2018 Buy Photo The Philadelphia Water Department says breaks in 48-inch mains — like one that flooded Center City on Tuesday — are rare, but not unheard of. Joseph A. Gambardello, Philly.com, "Recent 48-inch water main breaks in Philadelphia," 3 July 2018 The explosion, which injured 15 and killed Barr, occurred on the corner of Main and Bristol streets after a gas main was struck by a contractor, which caused a leak. Taylor Palmby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "J.J. Watt donates $10,000 to support family of firefighter killed in Sun Prairie explosion," 11 July 2018 WE Energies spokeswoman Amy Jahns said workers for a private contractor punctured a 4-inch gas main, causing a leak that resulted in the explosion that rained debris around the downtown area and ignited vehicles parked in the area. Todd Richmond, chicagotribune.com, "Firefighter killed, a dozen injured in gas explosion and fire near Madison, Wisconsin," 11 July 2018 Sketches are delivered, petites mains are stitching about, and Lagerfeld is watching over it all with a discerning eye, signing off on each couture creation. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Watch the Trailer for 7 Days Out, the New Netflix Series That Goes Inside a Chanel Couture Show and Other Landmark Events," 11 Dec. 2018 Next, prepare your tongue, and adventurous spirit, for the mains. Lillian Li, Bon Appetit, "We Like Our Crispy Intestines Extra Crispy," 6 June 2018 The easy-to-make relish in this chicken dish adds acidity and goes perfectly with many mains, including pork, beef, and fish. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Roasted Chicken and Garlic Potatoes with Red Pepper Relish," 19 Dec. 2018 Eager to not undergo the same health and financial fallout as Flint, officials decided no students at Detroit’s 106 public schools should be subjected to drinking mains water until a solution can be found and the water declared safe. Mike Householder, The Seattle Times, "Water coolers replace school drinking fountains in Detroit," 4 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Because her black hair bow was the main focal point of the look, Mann went for a classic cat-eye that paired perfectly with her Brigitte Bardot-esque updo, which was created by hairstylist Ryan Richman. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Maisie Williams Wore a Full Face of Urban Decay’s Game of Thrones Makeup Collection to the Season 8 Premiere," 4 Apr. 2019 Most women joined the Muslimah Moms First program with weight loss as one of their main goals. Nazima Qureshi, SELF, "3 Ways I Make Nutrition Advice More Culturally Relevant to Muslim Women Like Myself," 3 Apr. 2019 But Jamal’s main goal since season 1 has been the RollerWorld money and this scavenger hunt. Candice Frederick, Teen Vogue, ""On My Block" Star Brett Gray on the Innocence of Jamal and Channeling the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"," 2 Apr. 2019 Overall, Potcake Place's main goal is to lessen the amount of native and homeless puppies that are born onto the island. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "This Tropical Island is Brimming With Adoptable Puppies You Can Take Home," 2 Apr. 2019 My main goal was to choose something timeless and avoid all current trends. Ryan Ray, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Bride Found Her Gown One Month Before Her Absolutely Stunning Vineyard Wedding," 2 Apr. 2019 My main goal is to reach people through the universal love of music and not cause strife or anger against anyone or about any situation! Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "See 'American Idol' Judge Katy Perry's Most Controversial Moments on the Show," 3 Mar. 2019 Their main goal is to help Vanya learn more about her powers and how to control them in the past, which means their whole big fight might be avoided in the future. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "All "The Umbrella Academy" Questions We Need Answered In Season 2," 27 Feb. 2019 The main goal of the ARPAnet was to experiment with ways to link university research centers and high-tech defense contractors together. Popular Mechanics, "The Death of the Internet," 7 Feb. 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

Noun

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for main

Noun

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

Adjective

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

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Statistics for main

Last Updated

6 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for main

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

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More Definitions for main

main

noun

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

main

adjective

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

: most important

main

adjective
\ 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

main

noun

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with main

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for main

Spanish Central: Translation of main

Nglish: Translation of main for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of main for Arabic Speakers

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