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 maintainability (audio) \ noun
maintainable \ mān-​ˈtā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce maintainable (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 Among the claims from players: ■ Coaches directed players to maintain an elevated heart rate of at least 90% of capacity during play or face conditioning assignments or of risk losing playing time. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "Texas Tech fires coach Marlene Stollings amid abuse claims within women's basketball team," 7 Aug. 2020 At the federal level, public health authorities have recommended communities maintain COVID-19 positivity rates below 5% in order to safely reopen schools and businesses. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky teachers union says COVID-19 positivity rate too high to resume in-person classes," 7 Aug. 2020 Root Milwaukee is an association of more than 40 community organizations, neighborhoods groups, housing counseling agencies, Realtors and lenders that connects residents with resources to buy, maintain or repair a home., "Interested in buying your first home in Milwaukee? Here is a list of some programs that can help you navigate the process," 7 Aug. 2020 Biden had tailored his presidential campaign to accommodate the unions that build and maintain natural gas projects, and unions had returned the favor by boosting Biden's candidacy during his lowest points in the Democratic primary. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "Inside Joe Biden’s Network of Climate Advisers," 7 Aug. 2020 Maine appears to be the GOP's best chance to win one of the top four races and maintain control of the Senate. Stuart Rothenberg Cq-roll Call (tns), Star Tribune, "A horse-race update on the battle for control of the U.S. Senate," 6 Aug. 2020 Not only does the access to care help employees be more productive and maintain a better work-life balance, but the kids are also benefiting. Kathryn Vasel, CNN, "Without childcare, it will be a rough road to recovery," 6 Aug. 2020 The facility has been remodeled to accept both walk-in clients and those with appointments with COVID-19 protocols in place, including Plexiglass partitions and spaces where staff members can meet with clients and maintain distancing. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Food, forums, frustration: How Phoenix’s urban Indian centers changed with COVID-19," 6 Aug. 2020 Among other changes: teams must limit the size of traveling parties to essential personnel, maintain unoccupied rows between passengers on team buses, and distance seating on airplanes while ensuring players do not change locations. Jake Seiner,, "MLB tightening virus protocols, including masks in dugouts," 6 Aug. 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

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Maintain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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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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