main·​tain | \ mān-ˈtān How to pronounce maintain (audio) , 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 \ mān-​ˌtā-​nə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce maintainability (audio) \ noun
maintainable \ mān-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce maintainable (audio) \ adjective
maintainer noun

Synonyms for maintain


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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 Murphy wore no face mask or gloves, and maintained little distance between himself and jubilant, relieved passengers. Anchorage Daily News, "14 coronavirus-infected Americans were flown home from China against the CDC’s advice," 21 Feb. 2020 The 57-year-old was ordered to receive mental health counseling and maintain employment that does not involve any access to or oversight of money. Chris Mayhew,, "Ex-clerk in Clermont County village must pay back over $16K after admitting theft," 21 Feb. 2020 Civil liberties advocates criticize the sweeps, which CBP officials maintain are legal within 100 miles of an international border or coastline — Spokane being just within that distance of the U.S.-Canada border. Los Angeles Times, "This comedian says Border Patrol pulled him off a bus. Now he’s suing the government," 21 Feb. 2020 Issue 5 is a renewal of an existing 1.95-mill tax levy (for a period of five years) for the purpose of providing and maintaining vehicles, communications, and other equipment used to operate the Police Department, as well as salaries. cleveland, "Nominate a graduate for the North Ridgeville Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 21 Feb. 2020 Countries could still issue passports and maintain territorial notions of belonging. Zoey Poll, The New Yorker, "The Case for Open Borders," 20 Feb. 2020 That's especially true if Republicans maintain control of the Senate. Matt Egan, CNN, "How Bernie Sanders could actually be helping the stock market," 20 Feb. 2020 Xinhua, which is China’s main news agency and serves as a channel for most major announcements, maintains bureaus around the world, with its largest in Washington and New York. New York Times, "U.S. Designates China’s Official Media as Operatives of the Communist State," 18 Feb. 2020 In the new setup, spaces in between the nanowires seem to help maintain the moisture gradient, enabling power generation for 2 months and more, Yao’s team reports. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Electric bacteria create currents out of thin—and thick—air," 17 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for maintain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for maintain

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Maintain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for maintain


How to pronounce maintain (audio)

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 How to pronounce maintain (audio) \
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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