main·​frame ˈmān-ˌfrām How to pronounce mainframe (audio)
: 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
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 This keyboard reminds me of the kind of keyboards that used to be used on mainframe computers. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Terminals could also be hooked up to mainframe and minicomputers over relatively short distances with simple serial lines or with more complex multidrop systems. Iljitsch Van Beijnum, Ars Technica, 29 June 2023 Agile teams were permitted in big firms as pilots, even as mainframe legacy groups continued as before. Steve Denning, Forbes, 26 Feb. 2024 Each objective carries its own set of requirements and implications for whether the data is best positioned on the mainframe or in the cloud. Milan Shetti, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 The Silicon Valley-industrial complex Tech’s military ties predate Silicon Valley, which began in the late 1950s when funding from defense and intelligence agencies transformed a stretch of fruit orchards into production grounds for mainframes and microprocessors. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2024 The original 1982 Tron film starred Jeff Bridges as computer programmer Kevin Flynn, who ends up transported into a world inside the computer mainframe. Christian Holub,, 19 Jan. 2023 There used to be a bunch of companies in the mainframe game, but Rand, GE, NEC, Honeywell, and just about everyone else either no longer exists or is no longer building mainframes. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, 25 Dec. 2023 Late ‘40s or the early ’50s with a bunch of mainframes. WIRED, 18 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mainframe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1957, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of mainframe was in 1957

Dictionary Entries Near mainframe

Cite this Entry

“Mainframe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


main·​frame ˈmān-ˌfrām How to pronounce mainframe (audio)
: a large fast computer that can do many jobs at once

More from Merriam-Webster on mainframe

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