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

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

Bike lanes are maintained by the city’s water services department and swept as streets are, says Beth Breitenstein, public information officer for the public works department. Sarah Gish, kansascity, "Will Kansas City ever be bike-friendly? The city is about to roll out a plan," 13 July 2018 People found ticks in areas not represented in tracking maps maintained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers discovered. Dennis Thompson, CBS News, "Ticks that carry Lyme disease are spreading fast," 13 July 2018 After recounting about 35,000 of the 87,222 ballots in the contest Thursday, officials predicted that if the same pace was maintained the recount could finish earlier than predicted. Pamela Wood,, "Day 2 of recount in Baltimore County executive Democrat primary opens with Olszewski lead at 10 votes," 13 July 2018 Traffic and the cost of owning and maintaining a car contribute to Seattle’s ranking as the fifth worst city for driving. 6. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "These Are the 10 Worst Cities for Driving in 2018," 12 July 2018 In other action, Fort Lauderdale commissioners Tuesday: -- Tentatively raised the property tax rate after maintaining a steady rate for 11 years. The rate would increase from about $412 to about $426 for every $100,000 of taxable property value. Brittany Wallman,, "State forges ahead with New River pedestrian bridge or tunnel," 11 July 2018 According to Barrera, maintaining the district’s more than 180 schools, as well as charter schools and administration facilities, is not a one-time expense. Lauryn Schroeder,, "S.D. school district board sends $3.5 billion bond to November ballot," 10 July 2018 Lawrence's goal seems to be maintaining distance from his creation., "Meet Commander Lawrence, The Most Destabilizing Presence On The Handmaid's Tale," 10 July 2018 Among the former: The White House residential staff numbers 100 while the vice president’s 9,150-square-foot home located at the US Naval Observatory is maintained by a crew of a dozen people. Erik Spanberg, The Christian Science Monitor, "'First In Line' profiles modern vice presidents from Nixon to Pence," 9 July 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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Phrases Related to maintain

maintain life

maintain one's cool/composure

Statistics for maintain

Last Updated

8 Sep 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

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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