mainspring

noun

main·​spring ˈmān-ˌspriŋ How to pronounce mainspring (audio)
1
: the chief spring in a mechanism especially of a watch or clock
2
: the chief or most powerful motive, agent, or cause

Examples of mainspring in a Sentence

Agriculture is the mainspring of their economy.
Recent Examples on the Web This undying, uninterrupted devotion to their fanbase is, perhaps, the mainspring of the band’s success. Spin Contributor, SPIN, 27 Mar. 2024 The mainspring barrel was redesigned, and Jaeger replaced some key components with silicon parts, which makes energy transmission smoother by reducing friction when the watch is running. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 11 Jan. 2024 But the complicated watch goes further: its hefty mainspring is wound using a 60-facet bezel only once a month. Elizabeth Doerr, Robb Report, 26 Oct. 2023 In addition, its bi-directional pawl winding system builds up a power reserve of 46 hours in the mainspring. Cait Bazemore, Robb Report, 3 May 2023 But his family life is the mainspring of the drama. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 23 Mar. 2023 The interstellar military conflict is the mainspring of the story, and a link in what is intended to be an ongoing series. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 16 Dec. 2022 An utterly absurd car chase and a fight ensue—so does a warm personal relationship between Emily and Youcef, which provides the mainspring of the movie’s drama. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2022 Here was an opportunity to acquire and restore the old mainspring. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Aug. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mainspring.' 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

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mainspring was in 1591

Dictionary Entries Near mainspring

Cite this Entry

“Mainspring.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mainspring. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

mainspring

noun
main·​spring ˈmān-ˌspriŋ How to pronounce mainspring (audio)
1
: the principal spring in a mechanical device (as a watch or clock)
2
: the chief or most powerful motive or cause

More from Merriam-Webster on mainspring

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