Main | Definition of Main by Merriam-Webster


\ ˈmān How to pronounce main (audio) \

Definition of main

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : physical strength : force used in the phrase with might and mainThe next instant we were away down the river, clawing with might and main to keep out of the woods.— Mark Twain
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

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


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

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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!
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Elliott said those pipes are just a fraction of the cost of a sewer main, which can cost $1 million per mile just to install. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Potential solution emerges for Alabama’s Black Belt sewage woes," 19 Nov. 2020 Rescuers broke the car's window to reach the main and pulled him out. Janice Dean, Fox News, "Tropical Storm Eta floods South Florida, man in critical condition after driving into canal," 9 Nov. 2020 The utility said no gas readings were found in any of the buildings and no leaks were found on the Labyrinth Road gas main or services. Daniel Oyefusi,, "Northwest Baltimore gas explosion: a timeline of events," 10 Aug. 2020 According to Lincolnwood’s Public Works Director Andrew Letson, 15,000 feet of 20-inch transmission main was installed. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "Lincolnwood celebrates arrival of Evanston water after construction of mains completed; village expects significant savings," 8 Sep. 2020 Barring problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, the company expects to spend $173 million and replace 56 miles of gas main this year. Talia Richman,, "With hazardous gas leaks on the rise in Baltimore area, some ask whether BGE is replacing old pipes fast enough," 13 Aug. 2020 Butternut squash ensures that this meatless main will be fresh and filling. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Roasted Squash Salad," 10 Dec. 2019 The plan is to replace a part of the system that has proven inadequate with a new high-volume main, to be installed in natural clay well below the surface. Scott Huddleston,, "SAWS approves most costly, complex sewer main in San Antonio history to boost service on West Side," 7 July 2020 With 12 cars transferring from the heat races, a third place finish in the B-main would put the No. 86 entry 15th on the grid for the feature. Christopher Deharde, The Indianapolis Star, "Kyle Larson extends dirt track winning streak to eight races at Lincoln Park on Thursday," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The main concern for Dahl is his employees' health and safety. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "Some Phoenix music venues are reopening after COVID-19 closures. What you need to know," 21 Nov. 2020 Whereupon millions of those same rural supporters elected the main spreader of racist lies about Mr Obama to be his successor. The Economist, "Lexington Barack Obama’s new memoir will give his former deputy little comfort," 21 Nov. 2020 And the galette does double duty by acting as the main course for anyone who is avoiding meat. Kate Krader,, "A Star Chef’s Roast Vegetable Tart Solves Many Holiday Problems," 20 Nov. 2020 His main task was making sure the players remained safe, with Payton using a wet towel at all times to not lick his fingers and receivers using gloves to also prevent potential germ spreading. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Twists of fate allow Michigan State QB Payton Thorne's dad to see son play up close," 20 Nov. 2020 But the park’s main draws are the nearly 300 glaciers that cover almost half of the park surface. Melissa Findley, National Geographic, "Destinations on the rise for 2021," 20 Nov. 2020 In the Trump years, liberals were the main purveyors of the phrase. John Patrick Leary, The New Republic, "The Airy Abstraction of “Our Democracy”," 20 Nov. 2020 The main difference in comparison to the regular Fire Stick, according to our tech team, is the slightly faster hardware and a Dolby Atmos passthrough not seen on the Lite. Arielle Tschinkel, USA TODAY, "Amazon Black Friday deal: Get the all-new Fire Stick at Its Black Friday 2020 price," 20 Nov. 2020 MetroHealth currently has 20 inpatient beds for behavioral health at its main campus in Cleveland, Boutros said. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, "MetroHealth expansion will add 110 treatment beds for behavioral health, addiction services in Cleveland Heights," 20 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for main

Last Updated

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

Main.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for main


How to pronounce Main (audio)

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

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

: most important
\ 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
4 : physical strength : force So they stood … both shoving with might and main— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer

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