1

main

play
noun \ˈmān\

Definition of main

  1. 1 :  physical strength :  force —used in the phrase with might and main

  2. 2a :  mainlandb :  high sea

  3. 3 :  the chief part :  essential point they are in the main well-trained

  4. 4 :  a pipe, duct, or circuit which carries the combined flow of tributary branches of a utility system

  5. 5a :  mainmastb :  mainsail

Examples of main in a sentence

  1. My radio runs either off batteries or off the mains.

  2. Turn off the water at the mains.

Origin and Etymology of 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 2main or by shortening — more at may


First Known Use: before 12th century


2

main

adjective

Definition of main

  1. 1 :  chief, principal the main idea

  2. 2 :  fully exerted :  sheer main force by main strength

  3. 3 obsolete :  of or relating to a broad expanse (as of sea)

  4. 4 :  connected with or located near the mainmast or mainsail

  5. 5 :  expressing the chief predication in a complex sentence the main clause

Examples of main in a sentence

  1. Speed is the main advantage of this approach.

  2. The company's main office is located in New York.

  3. driving down the main road

  4. This dish can be served as a main course or appetizer.

  5. And now for the main event of the evening!

Origin and Etymology of main

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


First Known Use: 15th century


Main

play
geographical name \ˈmīn, ˈmān\

Definition of Main

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



MAIN Defined for English Language Learners

1

main

play
noun \ˈmān\

Definition of main for English Language Learners

  • : the largest pipe in a system of connected pipes

  • the mains : the system of pipes or wires for electricity, gas, or water

  • : the place where electricity, gas, or water enters a building or room


2

main

adjective

Definition of main for English Language Learners

  • : most important


MAIN Defined for Kids

1

main

play
adjective \ˈmān\

Definition of main for Students

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

mainly

adverb

2

main

play
noun

Definition of main for Students

  1. 1 :  the chief part :  essential point The new workers are in the main well trained.

  2. 2 :  a principal line, tube, or pipe of a utility system water main gas main

  3. 3 :  high seas

  4. 4 :  physical strength :  force So they stood … both shoving with might and main … — Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

capable of being altered or controlled

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • peter-bruegel-tower-of-babel-painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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