main·​stream | \ ˈmān-ˌstrēm How to pronounce mainstream (audio) \

Definition of mainstream

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a prevailing current or direction of activity or influence



Definition of mainstream (Entry 2 of 3)

: having, reflecting, or being compatible with the prevailing attitudes and values of a society or group mainstream media movies that appeal to a mainstream audience mainstream success


main·​stream | \ ˈmān-ˈstrēm How to pronounce mainstream (audio) \
mainstreamed; mainstreaming; mainstreams

Definition of mainstream (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to place (a student, such as a disabled child) in regular school classes
2 : to incorporate in the mainstream

Other Words from mainstream


mainstream adjective

Examples of mainstream in a Sentence

Verb The poor should be mainstreamed into the private health-insurance system. Ideas that were once controversial have now become mainstreamed.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Legitimizing The Chainsmokers in the mainstream, these songs have now aggregated 4 billion U.S. streams, according to Luminate, formerly MRC Data. Katie Bain, Billboard, 6 May 2022 This aspect is far less well articulated in the mainstream. Quartz, 5 May 2022 On issues of racial discrimination, religion, voting and campaign finance, his views are squarely in the mainstream of conservative legal thinking. Adam Liptak, New York Times, 4 May 2022 Being a gay Black woman musician in the mainstream also meant dealing with the pressure of embodying a certain aesthetic over the years. Candace Mcduffie, Essence, 27 Apr. 2022 The past few years have spawned any number of Twitter knockoffs catering to those who feel muzzled by the original, including Gab and Parler, but none has taken off in the mainstream. Joseph Menn, Cat Zakrzewski And Craig Timberg, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Apr. 2022 The past few years have spawned any number of Twitter knockoffs catering to those who feel muzzled by the original, including Gab and Parler, but none has taken off in the mainstream. Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2022 Republicans’ claims about Jackson’s sentencing in child-pornography cases were especially detached from reality: her record is well in the mainstream relative to that of other federal judges. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 9 Apr. 2022 Now, spurred by the Great Resignation, sabbaticals are going mainstream. Anne Kadet, Fortune, 15 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the years since, replacement theory has moved from the online fringe to mainstream right-wing politics. Chris Megerian, Chicago Tribune, 16 May 2022 The notion that white people are being replaced has recently moved from the fringe of far-right politics to mainstream Republican Party politics. Keeanga-yamahtta Taylor, The New Yorker, 15 May 2022 For decades, many Indigenous people in the area had distanced themselves from their culture to assimilate to mainstream Colombian society. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 May 2022 Fast-forward to Cara Delevingne's entrance to mainstream Hollywood in the early 2010s, and those standards made a complete 180. Allure, 15 Apr. 2022 These plaudits, of course, don’t add up to mainstream commercial success. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 28 Mar. 2022 Wordle's steps to mainstream success went from there. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 25 Mar. 2022 Palin, 58, resigned as governor in 2009, but helped mainstream the populist strain of GOP politics later embraced by former President Donald Trump. Mark Osborne, ABC News, 1 Apr. 2022 As my colleague Jacob Silverman has written, crypto enthusiasts were strangely excited that Russia’s invasion and ensuing sanctions from the West might help further mainstream their subfield. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mainstream.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of mainstream


1599, in the meaning defined above


1955, in the meaning defined above


1974, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About mainstream

Time Traveler for mainstream

Time Traveler

The first known use of mainstream was in 1599

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near mainstream

main stem


Main Street

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for mainstream

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mainstream.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for mainstream


main·​stream | \ ˌmān-ˌstrēm How to pronounce mainstream (audio) \

Medical Definition of mainstream

: relating to or being tobacco smoke that is drawn (as from a cigarette) directly into the mouth of the smoker and is usually inhaled into the lungs — compare sidestream

More from Merriam-Webster on mainstream

Nglish: Translation of mainstream for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mainstream for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!