main·frame | \ˈmān-ˌfrām \

Definition of mainframe 

1 : a large, powerful computer that can handle many tasks concurrently and is usually used commercially … the million-dollar mainframe computers that took up entire floors of corporate premises …— John Derbyshire

2 dated : a computer with its cabinet and internal circuits especially when considered separately from any peripherals connected to the computer

Examples of mainframe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Similar partnerships have sprung up around the country—in Ohio, for example, IBM is using Per Scholas to train mainframe operators versed in the programming language Cobol, after many of its Cobol-fluent employees retired. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Tech Companies Try to Retrain the Workers They're Displacing," 16 Mar. 2018 The company traditionally made products that run on mainframes, but in recent years has entered the cloud computing market. Bloomberg,, "Broadcom agrees to buy CA Technologies for $18.9 billion," 12 July 2018 Once, my team inadvertently erased a major automaker’s American customer database, due to a miscommunication over a change to systems that synchronized consumer website information with a mainframe that managed warranty records. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Atlanta's Boring Ransomware Attack," 28 Mar. 2018 Revenue from its systems division, which includes mainframes, rose 32 percent to $3.3 billion. Steve Lohr, New York Times, "IBM Ends 22-Quarter Streak of Falling Revenue," 18 Jan. 2018 CA Technologies, formerly known as Computer Associates, was founded in 1976 as a maker of business programs for mainframe computers. New York Times, "Broadcom Reaches Nearly $19 Billion Deal to Buy CA Technologies," 11 July 2018 Old mainframes still have to be updated to work with new systems. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "The Dot-Coms Were Better Than Facebook," 13 Apr. 2018 Microsoft might never have come to rule PC software if IBM, accused of monopolising mainframes, had not decided in 1969 to market computers and their programs separately, a move that created the software industry. The Economist, "The art of the possibleThere is no single solution to making the internet more decentralised," 28 June 2018 Their first game was Computer Space, which was based on Spacewar!, a game Bushnell had seen running on a PDP1 mainframe computer at the University of Utah. Nellie Bowles,, "Ted Dabney, an Atari founder, Pong creator, dies at 81," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mainframe.' 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 mainframe

1957, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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The first known use of mainframe was in 1957

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English Language Learners Definition of mainframe

: a large and very fast computer that can do many jobs at once

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