main·​stay | \ˈmān-ˌstā \

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

Basically, no longer a mainstay of the rich and famous. Fox News, "Trumpism vs. socialism? DeSantis, Gillum face off in Florida," 29 Aug. 2018 Gervanio Guimaraes/Getty Images Over the past 10 years or so, coconut oil has become a mainstay, both as a food and as a personal care product. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "How coconut oil went from health food to “poison”," 23 Aug. 2018 Five backstage makeup mainstays that'll change your life For theater-quality, transformative contouring, remember these two words: Ben Nye. Jamie Beckman, Allure, "Backstage Beauty Secrets From the Cast and Crew of Hamilton and Sleep No More," 13 Aug. 2018 Lebanon’s tourism industry, a mainstay of the struggling economy, badly needs a boost. The Economist, "Why a mayor in Lebanon has dressed policewomen in hot pants," 12 July 2018 Dann was a mainstay in the Eagles' side in the 2017/18 season, featuring 17 times before suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in an attempt to tackle Kevin De Bruyne at the tail end of a draw between Manchester City and Palace., "Crystal Palace Star Edging Closer to First Team Return as Rehab Continues After Serious Knee Injury," 11 July 2018 Opened on July 5, 1993, at 1560 N. Damen, the Bongo Room quickly became a Wicker Park mainstay, serving coffee and muffins to the neighborhood's artists, musicians, and students. Sarah Nardi, Chicago Reader, "The Bongo Room turns 25: A look back at Wicker Park's beloved brunch spot," 5 July 2018 Other early phase mainstays include naproxen, caffeine and aspirin. Tony Dajer, Discover Magazine, "Vertigo, Panic and Trouble Breathing: What's Going On Here?," 19 Oct. 2018 In some countries around the world, soda is cheaper than bottled water, making it a growing mainstay in the diets of adults and children alike in poor countries. Abigail Higgins, Vox, "Heart disease used to be an ailment of the rich. But it’s now striking the world’s poor.," 15 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for mainstay

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for mainstay

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

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More Definitions for mainstay



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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on mainstay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mainstay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mainstay

Spanish Central: Translation of mainstay

Nglish: Translation of mainstay for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mainstay for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mainstay

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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