\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



Definition of main (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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 About 1,000 people were evacuated in the western Maryland city of Hagerstown on Tuesday after workers struck a six-inch gas main, officials said. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2022 Sixteen months later, on March 9th, at around eight in the morning, Gardner arrived at her office on the fourth floor of the library’s seventeen-story main tower to begin a string of Zoom meetings. Simon Parkin, The New Yorker, 16 Aug. 2022 Consists of the installation of a new sanitary sewer main and laterals on the west side of Spencer between Robert Ave and the Fairview Park corporation limit on Spencer Road as well as new curbs and the resurfacing of all of Spencer Road. Linda Gandee, cleveland, 8 Aug. 2022 The issue began Saturday morning when a break in the 120-inch water transmission main was found, affecting the drinking of water of nearly 935,000 Michigan residents. Sarah Raza, Detroit Free Press, 14 Aug. 2022 The plane burst a gas line, and the Fire Department arrived just as a gas main exploded in the home of Lt. Col. Charles A. Meyer. Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2022 Serve one slider per guest as an appetizer or two as a main. Joe Yonan, Washington Post, 5 June 2022 The rocket hit a gas main, and the blast reverberated through the city. James Verini, New York Times, 19 May 2022 Games will be played at six gyms in Shelbyville — Collins High School main, Collins High School auxiliary, Marnel Moorman School, West Middle School, Shelby Christian Church and First Baptist Church. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 16 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective According to the affidavit, at his home, Mahi forced the teen inside a yellow bus that was located behind the main house. Christine Pelisek, Peoplemag, 23 Sep. 2022 The 5,409-square-foot main house, a log cabin-style manse, was built in 2009 and is set on the 296-acre Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, which is located less than 90 minutes from Manhattan. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 22 Sep. 2022 Scientists have known for decades that the combustion of fossil fuels by humans are the main driver of climate change. Jessie Yeung, Caitlin Hu And Ella Nilsen, CNN, 22 Sep. 2022 These are bags whose structures and hinges aren’t meant to be hidden, but to take the main stage. Madison Rexroat, ELLE, 21 Sep. 2022 Jose is one of many Mexican-American fans there to see the once-underground norteño band, fronted by Eduin Caz, become the first Mexican act to perform at the festival’s main stage during a primetime slot. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 21 Sep. 2022 Giulia was away from the main stage for almost a year. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 20 Sep. 2022 Anxious piano mingled with wailing strings, as the audience was brought to their feet by the fraternity marching stiffly across the catwalk to the main stage. Neena Rouhani, Billboard, 19 Sep. 2022 By the time the alt rockers went on at 8:30 p.m., the crowd filled the Riot main stage and stretched all the way back to the Rise stage, across the sports fields. Doug George, Chicago Tribune, 17 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of main


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for main


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


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

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Time Traveler for main

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

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Last Updated

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Main.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for main


\ 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



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, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Main geographical name

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

Definition of Main

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

More from Merriam-Webster on main

Nglish: Translation of main for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of main for Arabic Speakers


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