verb main·tain \mān-ˈtān, mən-\

Definition of maintain

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to keep in an existing state (as of repair, efficiency, or validity) :  preserve from failure or decline maintain machinery

  3. 2 :  to sustain against opposition or danger :  uphold and defend maintain a position

  4. 3 :  to continue or persevere in :  carry on, keep up couldn't maintain his composure

  5. 4a :  to support or provide for has a family to maintainb :  sustain enough food to maintain life

  6. 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.

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

First Known Use: 14th century

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


verb main·tain \mān-ˈtān, mən-\

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




  1. 1 :  to carry on :  continue After many years they still maintain a correspondence.

  2. 2 :  to keep in a particular or desired state Eat properly to maintain good health.

  3. 3 :  to insist to be true She maintains her innocence.

  4. 4 :  to provide for :  support I maintained my family by working two jobs.

Seen and Heard

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


capable of being understood in two ways

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.