main·​land | \ ˈmān-ˌland How to pronounce mainland (audio) , -lənd \

Definition of mainland

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a continent or the main part of a continent as distinguished from an offshore island or sometimes from a cape or peninsula


geographical name
Main·​land | \ ˈmān-ˌland How to pronounce Mainland (audio) , -lənd \

Definition of Mainland (Entry 2 of 2)

2 island in northern Scotland; largest of the Orkney Islands
3 island in northern Scotland; largest of the Shetland Islands

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Other Words from mainland


mainlander \ ˈmān-​ˌlan-​dər How to pronounce mainlander (audio) , -​lən-​ \ noun

Synonyms for mainland

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of mainland in a Sentence

Noun the boat back to the mainland leaves once every two days
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The protests began in June over legislation, since withdrawn, that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Hong Kong Police End 2-Week Campus Siege," 29 Nov. 2019 Colin boated from Quadra Island to a logging camp on the coast of mainland British Columbia, below the peak. Jason Daley, Outside Online, "This Man Fought a Grizzly Bear with a Pocketknife," 26 Nov. 2019 Protests first erupted this past June after the government introduced an extradition bill that would send criminal suspects for trials to mainland China. Fox News, "Hong Kong elections seen as win for pro-democracy candidates after massive turnout," 25 Nov. 2019 However, a government extradition proposal earlier this year to allow suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China sparked massive, sometimes violent protests. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Hong Kong elections draw record turnouts as pro-democracy protesters challenge establishment," 25 Nov. 2019 The government’s one concession—withdrawing a bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial—did little to restore calm. The Economist, "Hong Kong in revolt China’s unruly periphery resents the Communist Party’s heavy hand," 21 Nov. 2019 Cheng's arrest came during widespread protests in Hong Kong over a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. Helen Regan, CNN, "Former British consulate worker says he was tortured in China over UK's role in Hong Kong protests," 20 Nov. 2019 The islands are part of Portugal, but the people who live here are hardier than their mainland cousins; descendants of whalers and fishermen, winemakers and farmers, who carved their livelihoods out of stone. Trish Lorenz, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Explore the Azores, Island by Island," 19 Nov. 2019 This division is at the heart of the city’s recent large-scale protests against an extradition law that would allow the government to transfer accused criminals from Hong Kong to mainland China, where penalties are much harsher. King-wa Fu, Quartz, "Students in Hong Kong used fax machines to fight Chinese censorship of Tiananmen Square," 29 Oct. 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for mainland

Time Traveler

The first known use of mainland was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mainland.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for mainland


How to pronounce Mainland (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mainland

: a large area of land that forms a country or a continent and that does not include islands


main·​land | \ ˈmān-ˌland How to pronounce mainland (audio) \

Kids Definition of mainland

: a continent or the largest part of a continent as distinguished from an offshore island or islands

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