main

noun
\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : physical strength : force used in the phrase with might and main The next instant we were away down the river, clawing with might and main to keep out of the woods.— Mark Twain
2a : mainland
b : high sea
3 : the chief part : essential point they are in the main well-trained
4 : a pipe, duct, or circuit which carries the combined flow of tributary branches of a utility system
5a : mainmast
b : mainsail

main

adjective

Definition of main (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : chief, principal the main idea
2 : fully exerted : sheer main force by main strength
3 obsolete : of or relating to a broad expanse (as of sea)
4 : connected with or located near the mainmast or mainsail
5 : expressing the chief predication in a complex sentence the main clause

Main

geographical name
\ ˈmīn How to pronounce Main (audio) , ˈmān\

Definition of Main (Entry 3 of 3)

river 325 miles (523 kilometers) long in south central Germany rising in northern Bavaria in the Fichtelgebirge and flowing west into the Rhine River

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of main in a Sentence

Noun

My radio runs either off batteries or off the mains. Turn off the water at the mains.

Adjective

Speed is the main advantage of this approach. The company's main office is located in New York. driving down the main road This dish can be served as a main course or appetizer. And now for the main event of the evening!
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The service lines connect an individual property to the gas mains. BostonGlobe.com, "Prodded by the state Department of Public Utilities, Columbia Gas said Thursday it is inspecting abandoned gas lines in the three Merrimack Valley communities rocked by gas explosions last Sept. 13 that killed one person and damaged dozens of homes and businesses.," 13 Sep. 2019 When all was said and done, the place isn’t exactly cheap (over $200, excluding alcohol, for two appetizers, five mains, a supplemental side and one dessert). Michael Mayo, sun-sentinel.com, "Review: Hot and bothered at Black Rock in Fort Lauderdale, home of DIY steaks and mystery drink prices," 11 Sep. 2019 In the first half of the 20th century Tokyo sank by four metres as Tokyoites not yet hooked up to mains water drained aquifers. The Economist, "Climate change is a remorseless threat to the world’s coasts," 17 Aug. 2019 For mains, a full-bodied red like a Cabernet Sauvignon with equal parts refinement and character is ideal. Sara Mae Albert, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Plan a Casual Chic Dinner Party," 2 Aug. 2019 For divergence, Baraghani points out Sofreh in Brooklyn; Nasim Alikhani opened the restaurant last year; the mains on her menu lean toward stews and dishes such as chicken served in plum and saffron sauce. Los Angeles Times, "Two Iranian American food writers talk Persian restaurant menus and home cooking," 10 Aug. 2019 If Columbia Gas had upgraded your street, your gas main would be running at well above 0.5 psi. Nathaniel Penn, Popular Mechanics, "The Day the Town Blew Up," 3 June 2019 Sketches are delivered, petites mains are stitching about, and Lagerfeld is watching over it all with a discerning eye, signing off on each couture creation. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Watch the Trailer for 7 Days Out, the New Netflix Series That Goes Inside a Chanel Couture Show and Other Landmark Events," 11 Dec. 2018 An explosion rocked the city of Sun Prairie, Wis., on Tuesday after a contractor struck a natural gas main, leveling buildings and injuring at least two firefighters and one police officer, authorities said. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Wisconsin gas explosion levels Main Street buildings; firefighters, police officer reported injured," 2 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The poll for Kan Channel 11, Israel's public broadcast network, projects Likud winning 32 seats and his main challenger, former army boss Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party winning 32 seats. Andrew Carey, CNN, "Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election plans in limbo as Israeli exit polls show tight contest," 17 Sep. 2019 There are two main categories of factors that would make the Fed less dovish. NBC News, "New math: Federal Reserve will lower rates this week, but future cuts are no sure thing," 17 Sep. 2019 Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District in Houston, said the main threat from Imelda remained the potential for heavy rainfall and flooding. CBS News, "Houston prepares for heavy rain and flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda," 17 Sep. 2019 Study co-author Matt Giesler, a graduate student at Caltech, realized that this pessimism was caused by a focus on the main vibrational frequency. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Fresh analysis of LIGO data supports “no hair” theorem for black holes," 17 Sep. 2019 The main ingredient, soybean oil, is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are known to be pro-inflammatory, especially when not properly balanced with omega-3s. Cynthia Sass, Mph, Health.com, "5 Trader Joe's New Products to Try This Fall," 17 Sep. 2019 However, the main feeling to take away from Liverpool fans' reactions to the defeat on Tuesday was, perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, disappointment. SI.com, "Twitter Reacts to Uncharacteristic Liverpool Errors & Adrian Wonder Save in Champions League Opener," 17 Sep. 2019 Like Kindred, whose main character is married to a white man and partially descended from slave-owners, The Water Dancer seems to dwell on interracial ties to remind us how deeply black and white histories are intertwined. Eric Herschthal, The New Republic, "How Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Novel Reckons With the Past," 17 Sep. 2019 The beer Sam Adams is the main sponsor of Oktoberfest. Polly Campbell, Cincinnati.com, "Everything you need to know about Oktoberfest Zinzinnati," 16 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'main.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of main

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for main

Noun

in sense 1, from Middle English, from Old English mǣgen; akin to Old High German magan strength, Old English magan to be able; in other senses, from main entry 2 or by shortening — more at may entry 1

Adjective

Middle English, from Old English mǣgen-, from mǣgen strength

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about main

Statistics for main

Last Updated

21 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for main

The first known use of main was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for main

main

noun

English Language Learners Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the largest pipe in a system of connected pipes
: the system of pipes or wires for electricity, gas, or water
: the place where electricity, gas, or water enters a building or room

main

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of main (Entry 2 of 2)

: most important

main

adjective
\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Kids Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: first in size, rank, or importance : chief Go in the main entrance. What's the main reason?

Other Words from main

mainly adverb

main

noun

Kids Definition of main (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the chief part : essential point The new workers are in the main well trained.
2 : a principal line, tube, or pipe of a utility system water main gas main
3 : high seas
4 : physical strength : force So they stood … both shoving with might and main— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on main

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with main

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for main

Spanish Central: Translation of main

Nglish: Translation of main for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of main for Arabic Speakers

Comments on main

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to spread over or through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!