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

What many American teenagers take for granted daily has become a privilege that their Iranian peers must fight to maintain. Iman Hariri-kia, Teen Vogue, "How Social Media in Iran Is Used as a Tool for Protest," 11 July 2018 Despite their breakup, Galecki and Cuoco have maintained a professional relationship both off camera and on. Eileen Reslen, Good Housekeeping, "Johnny Galecki Posts Sweet Tribute for Ex Kaley Cuoco on Her Wedding Day," 2 July 2018 Historically, most protocols were developed by researchers and then maintained by non-profit organisations. The Economist, "Raiders of the killer dappBlockchain technology may offer a way to re-decentralise the internet," 28 June 2018 But not for one husband and wife, who lost a combined 135 pounds and decided to maintain their healthful lifestyle during their recent trip away. Blake Bakkila,, "This Couple Lost a Combined 135 Pounds Together—Here’s How They Stay Healthy on Vacation," 27 June 2018 This type of deal could not have been done if the Bucks had maintained their qualifying offer since offer sheets have to be for at least two years and those two years cannot include options. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks rescind qualifying offer; Jabari Parker joins Chicago Bulls," 14 July 2018 Egypt's railway system has a poor safety record, mostly blamed on decades of badly maintained equipment and poor management. Fox News, "Train derails in Egypt, 55 injured," 13 July 2018 Republicans are trying to unseat the state's senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, and maintain control of Congress. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "Political muscle halts release of Lake O's foul water. The reprieve won't last long," 9 July 2018 To me, Rustic Goat is one of the most attractive and well-maintained restaurants in town. Anchorage Daily News, "A revamped menu of comfort food at Rustic Goat restaurant," 5 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

20 Oct 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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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