main·​tain | \mān-ˈtān, mən-\
maintained; maintaining; maintains

Definition of maintain 

transitive verb

1 : to keep in an existing state (as of repair, efficiency, or validity) : preserve from failure or decline maintain machinery

2 : to sustain against opposition or danger : uphold and defend maintain a position

3 : to continue or persevere in : carry on, keep up couldn't maintain his composure

4a : to support or provide for has a family to maintain

b : sustain enough food to maintain life

5 : to affirm in or as if in argument : assert maintained that the earth is flat

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Other Words from maintain

maintainability \-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
maintainable \-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl \ adjective
maintainer noun

Synonyms for maintain


conserve, keep up, preserve, save

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Choose the Right Synonym for maintain

maintain, assert, defend, vindicate, justify mean to uphold as true, right, just, or reasonable. maintain stresses firmness of conviction. steadfastly maintained his innocence assert suggests determination to make others accept one's claim. asserted her rights defend implies maintaining in the face of attack or criticism. defended his voting record vindicate implies successfully defending. his success vindicated our faith in him justify implies showing to be true, just, or valid by appeal to a standard or to precedent. the action was used to justify military intervention

Examples of maintain in a Sentence

They have always maintained high standards of professional conduct. He has found it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. The company has done a poor job of maintaining its computer network. It was obvious that the house had been poorly maintained. She was finding it hard to maintain her balance. She still maintains a close relationship with her college roommate. It's difficult to maintain a correspondence when we're both so busy. The pilot was struggling to maintain control of the aircraft. The police say that they will do whatever is necessary to maintain law and order.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In other words, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising daily are non-negotiables in the bigger picture of gut health. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "From CBD to Sex-Positivity, the 8 Biggest Wellness Trends of 2018," 10 Dec. 2018 Bombs, Boats, and Robots Steiner’s first assignment out of boot camp was maintaining a gas turbine engine on the USS Pegasus (PHM-1). Josh Snider, Popular Mechanics, "The Everything Workshop," 4 Dec. 2018 But at 19, Louie doesn’t talk or often maintain eye contact. Shelley Levitt, Woman's Day, "These 4 Inspirational Women Went to Great Lengths for Their Kids," 4 Dec. 2018 The Voice entered the Live Playoffs this week and maintaining a spot on the NBC reality show is becoming increasingly more challenging for the remaining contestants. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'The Voice' Coach Adam Levine Explains Why He Thinks the Competition Is 'Unfair'," 18 Nov. 2018 Highlights are the easiest color treatment to maintain. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "20 Things You Should Know Before Coloring Your Hair for the First Time," 8 Nov. 2018 The South Island’s mountainous, dramatic southwestern coast is home to breeding colonies of the Fiordland penguin, though the animals don’t maintain residence there year-round. 15. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Penguins," 6 Nov. 2018 What this means: Though PCs have continued to defy expectations and maintain flat to slight sales growth—overall shipments increased 0.1 percent this quarter, Gartner says—the wild card will be Intel and its available CPUs. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft cracks the top 5 U.S. PC vendors, but Intel CPU shortages could bring more change," 11 Oct. 2018 Where some mascaras start to get gloppy after too many coats, this one builds with ease, all while maintaining a curl. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "This Maybelline Mascara Is So Good, I Call It the Drugstore Diorshow," 16 Nov. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for maintain

Middle English mainteinen, from Anglo-French maintenir, maynteiner, from Medieval Latin manutenēre, from Latin manu tenēre to hold in the hand

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Statistics for maintain

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for maintain

The first known use of maintain was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for maintain



English Language Learners Definition of maintain

: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing

: to keep (something) in good condition by making repairs, correcting problems, etc.

: to continue having or doing (something)


main·​tain | \mān-ˈtān \
maintained; maintaining

Kids Definition of maintain

1 : to carry on : continue After many years they still maintain a correspondence.

2 : to keep in a particular or desired state Eat properly to maintain good health.

3 : to insist to be true She maintains her innocence.

4 : to provide for : support I maintained my family by working two jobs.

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More from Merriam-Webster on maintain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for maintain

Spanish Central: Translation of maintain

Nglish: Translation of maintain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of maintain for Arabic Speakers

Comments on maintain

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having a pattern of small flowers

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