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 maintain (audio) \ noun
maintainable \ mān-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce maintain (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 The high tides prompted weather officials to advise that people maintain a safe distance from ocean shorelines, stay off coastal rocks and jetties, avoid steep beaches, and never turn their backs to the ocean. Vanessa Arredondo,, "Beaches ‘not safe for anybody right now’: Dangerous high surf batters Bay Area coasts," 13 Jan. 2021 In total, expenditures are expected to exceed revenues by $934,309, but O’Daniels says the deficit spending is necessary in order to maintain the organization’s marketing efforts despite the revenue shortfall. Bill Mchugh,, "Tourist Commission’s O’Daniels says things won’t return to normal until 2022," 7 Jan. 2021 Market organizers said the same protocols apply to this market as to other North Union markets, including: · Be courteous of other customers and vendors and maintain a 6-foot social distance. Carol Kovach, cleveland, "It’s time to submit nominations for Bay Village Citizen, Project of Year: West Shore Chatter," 5 Jan. 2021 There is an element of suspense, interesting people, the effort to maintain connections, and a warning about telecommunication. Globe Staff,, "The Fast Forward 2020 Winter Bookies reading list," 4 Jan. 2021 As most dance companies continue to maintain their distance from the stage, the Graham group — now in its 95th season — opens the year with digital programming organized by theme. New York Times, "11 Things Our Critics Are Looking Forward to in 2021," 31 Dec. 2020 Make attempts to be more flexible and be willing to put in even more effort than usual to maintain peaceful connections with others. Tarot Astrologers,, "Daily horoscope for December 30, 2020," 30 Dec. 2020 Workers have taped off groups of four seats to maintain distance between parties, and every other row in the stadium will be blocked off., "Express Briefing: Officials promise safety at Alamo Bowl as coronavirus worsens," 29 Dec. 2020 Land was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving, driving under the influence and failure to maintain lane. Sarah Kallis, ajc, "Driver charged in wreck that killed 19-year-old National Guard recruit," 29 Dec. 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

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Maintain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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