main·​frame | \ ˈmān-ˌfrām How to pronounce mainframe (audio) \

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 Presidents who are or have been readers are constantly retooling their mental mainframe. Keith C. Burris Pittsburgh Post-gazette (tns), Star Tribune, "What I would ask Biden and Trump," 14 Oct. 2020 Once an iconic blue-chip company, IBM’s star has faded over the years as its legacy in mainframe computing and IT services fell behind while newer technology firms like Amazon swooped in to dominate the emerging cloud-computing market. Olivia Carville,, "IBM to Spin Off Legacy IT Business, Pegging Future on Cloud," 8 Oct. 2020 Oakland County reverted to its backup public safety communications system for about three hours Sunday when an old piece of hardware that allows the county mainframe system to communicate with various dispatch consoles went down. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Oakland County public safety used backup communications system when old hardware went down," 15 Sep. 2020 Now, in today's technology, this little device can do just about everything that all four stories of mainframe computers used to do. Pamela Falk, CBS News, "Civil rights leader Andrew Young says racism is based on fear, and George Floyd's death "touched the heart of the planet"," 3 July 2020 The agency has repeatedly blamed its problems on archaic mainframe technology dating back to the 1980s. oregonlive, "Participants offer inside look at employment department debacle," 20 June 2020 The Perceptron had been developed on a 9-tonne IBM 704, a mainframe computer with less power than a modern television remote control. The Economist, "The future Humans will add to AI’s limitations," 11 June 2020 Compuware is a mainframe software company started in 1973. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit-based Compuware finalizes latest buyout, gets new name," 1 June 2020 Some unemployment insurance systems run on mainframe computers that are 40 years old. Dan Balz, Anchorage Daily News, "Crisis exposes how America has hollowed out its government," 17 May 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of mainframe

1957, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mainframe

Time Traveler for mainframe

Time Traveler

The first known use of mainframe was in 1957

See more words from the same year

Statistics for mainframe

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mainframe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mainframe


How to pronounce mainframe (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mainframe

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

More from Merriam-Webster on mainframe

Nglish: Translation of mainframe for Spanish Speakers

Comments on mainframe

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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