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

White nationalist literature, slogans, and images are mainstays. NBC News, "Investigators 'reasonably confident' Texas suspect left anti-immigrant screed, tipped off before attack," 4 Aug. 2019 Keep in mind that scorching temperatures and severe rainfall are New Orleans mainstays in the summer. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "First-timers' guide to New Orleans: 10 do's and don'ts to keep in mind," 10 July 2019 History: Farming and ranching were the mainstays of this area, once known as the Janal and Otay ranchos, Mexican land granted to José Antonio Estudillo. Martina Schimitschek, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Eastlake & Otay Ranch: A suburban mecca on eastern end of Chula Vista has rural roots," 30 June 2019 This part of southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina has endured the simultaneous collapse of the three industries that were the mainstays of its many small towns: tobacco, textiles, and furniture making. James Fallows, The Atlantic, "The Reinvention of a Downtown: Danville’s Story, Part 2," 17 June 2019 Even the ownership groups were Southern California mainstays. John Cherwa,, "Fore Left wins Tremont Stakes and Catalina Cruiser takes True North Stakes at Belmont," 7 June 2019 Where to Plant Hostas Hostas are the mainstays of the shade garden. Kris Wetherbee, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow the Most Stunning Hostas," 7 Aug. 2018 In a league with much turnover throughout the season, De La Trinidad and first baseman Yoel Yanqui have been mainstays in the Cougars’ lineup. Paul Johnson, Aurora Beacon-News, "Hometown hero: Drafted by Diamondbacks, Phoenix native Ernie De La Trinidad off to promising start with Cougars," 17 June 2018 The problem is, even if Culp can gradually exit LTC without the dire consequences, GE's future will depend on the performance of four industrial mainstays: power, healthcare, aviation, and renewable energy. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "GE’s Basic Businesses Are Badly Underperforming, by This Accounting Metric," 27 Aug. 2019

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

19 Sep 2019

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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 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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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).


concealment of treason or felony

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