main·​stay | \ ˈmān-ˌstā How to pronounce mainstay (audio) \

Definition of mainstay

1 : a ship's stay extending from the maintop forward usually to the foot of the foremast
2 : a chief support

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Examples of mainstay in a Sentence

Fish is a mainstay of their diet. My mother has always been the mainstay of our family.
Recent Examples on the Web Commercials have ranged from the serious to the silly, but the spokesperson has remained a mainstay. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "Infamous Characters from TV Commercials," 25 June 2020 On the other side of this, fashion week mainstay brands, like Gucci and Michael Kors, have abandoned the fashion week calendar altogether this forthcoming season. Irina Grechko,, "Burberry Announced An “Immersive Show Experience” In September," 22 June 2020 For the Chargers, rookie quarterback and No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert and veteran Tyrod Taylor will compete for the starting spot after the team parted ways with mainstay Philip Rivers. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Los Angeles Rams, Chargers to be featured on HBO's 'Hard Knocks' this year," 18 June 2020 Wooten was a mainstay on the offensive line from 1961-68, earning two Pro Bowl selections. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Is Mike Johnson the best to wear 59? Ranking the best Browns to wear each jersey number: 56-60," 16 June 2020 The 19-year-old had become a mainstay at Tallahassee protests following the death of Tony McDade, a Black trans man killed by Florida police just days after the death of George Floyd. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Oluwatoyin Salau: Activist Found Dead After Tweeting About Sexual Assault," 15 June 2020 The Giants are making a $2.5 million bet that a left-handed pitcher from De La Salle High in Concord will become a mainstay of their rotation. Henry Schulman,, "Giants pay whopping bonus to sign De La Salle High lefty Kyle Harrison," 15 June 2020 Clark had been a mainstay on the front lines—a vibrant presence, vocally and sartorially. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, "The Heart of the Uprising in Minneapolis," 15 June 2020 Open houses, the mainstay of agents looking to show a property to as many people as possible, pose problems. Anna Bahney, CNN, "The new rules of buying and selling a house in a coronavirus world," 12 June 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for mainstay

Time Traveler

The first known use of mainstay was in the 15th century

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Statistics for mainstay

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mainstay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for mainstay


How to pronounce mainstay (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mainstay

: a very important part of something : something or someone that provides support and makes it possible for something to exist or succeed


main·​stay | \ ˈmān-ˌstā How to pronounce mainstay (audio) \

Kids Definition of mainstay

1 : the large strong rope from the maintop of a ship usually to the foot of the foremast
2 : a chief support the mainstay of the family

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