verb main·tain \ mān-ˈtān , mən- \
|Updated on: 11 Aug 2018

Definition of maintain

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
4 a : 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


play \-ˌtā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun


play \-ˈtā-nə-bəl\ adjective



Examples of maintain in a Sentence

  1. They have always maintained high standards of professional conduct.

  2. He has found it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

  3. The company has done a poor job of maintaining its computer network.

  4. It was obvious that the house had been poorly maintained.

  5. She was finding it hard to maintain her balance.

  6. She still maintains a close relationship with her college roommate.

  7. It's difficult to maintain a correspondence when we're both so busy.

  8. The pilot was struggling to maintain control of the aircraft.

  9. The police say that they will do whatever is necessary to maintain law and order.

Recent Examples of maintain from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of maintain

Middle English mainteinen, from Anglo-French maintenir, maynteiner, from Medieval Latin manutenēre, from Latin manu tenēre to hold in the hand

Synonym Discussion of 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

MAINTAIN Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of maintain for English Language Learners

  • : 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)

MAINTAIN Defined for Kids


verb main·tain \ mān-ˈtān \

Definition of maintain for Students

maintained; maintaining
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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excessive admiration or flattery

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