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 Meyer’s group would then see the project through permitting by utilizing current AGDC staff on a contract basis to maintain the deep knowledge base on the work that has been done. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Former AGDC president makes pitch to retake reins of Alaska LNG Project," 10 Jan. 2020 The small community in New Hampshire known for holding its vote at midnight on primary day managed to find enough new residents to maintain its first-in-the-nation status. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "Dixville Notch cobbles together enough voters to keep first-in-nation primary voting status," 10 Jan. 2020 The incident comes as Yosemite and Aramark struggle to maintain adequate visitor services at the park. Kurtis Alexander,, "Yosemite hit with outbreak of stomach illness, prompting ‘extensive clean-up and disinfection’," 10 Jan. 2020 Without doubt, the most difficult issue during the Brexit divorce discussions was how to maintain a free and open border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the EU. Washington Post, "France rejects 11-month deadline UK sets on EU trade talks," 10 Jan. 2020 Arciga also brought in a new chorizo cooler to maintain the right temperature. oregonlive, "These 21 Oregon grocery stores did the worst on state health inspections," 10 Jan. 2020 The Pentagon would like to maintain some sort of presence in Iraq—and at its base in Tanf, in Syria, which is supplied through Iraq—as a hedge against the resurgence of Islamic State (IS). The Economist, "After the assassination How Iran can respond to the killing of Qassem Suleimani," 9 Jan. 2020 An article on Wednesday about the partial removal of NATO trainers in Iraq misidentified the country in which NATO will continue to maintain a presence. New York Times, "Corrections: Jan. 9, 2020," 8 Jan. 2020 Strengthening the empire, Cyrus’s policy of tolerance toward the conquered allowed local peoples to maintain their languages, traditions, and religions, which in turn allowed Persian culture to benefit from a truly global exchange. National Geographic, "History's first superpower sprang from ancient Iran," 6 Jan. 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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Maintain.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 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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Comments on maintain

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


to express in a more acceptable way

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