Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of main
Meaning of main by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • enPR: mān, IPA: /meɪn/, X-SAMPA: /meIn/
    • Rhymes: -eɪn
    • Homophone: mane, Maine

    Etymology 1

    From Middle English main, mayn, meyn, partly from Old English mægen- ( "strong, principal, main"; used in combination ), from Old English mæġen ( “strength” ), and partly from Old Norse megn, megenn ( “strong, main” ); both from Proto-Germanic *maginan ( “strength, power, might” ), *maginaz ( “strong” ), from Proto-Indo-European *mogh-, *megh- ( “power” ). Cognate with Old High German megīn ( “strong, mighty” ), German Möge, Vermögen ( “power, wealth” ). Akin also to Old English magan ( “to be able to” ). More at may .


    main ( not comparable )

    1. ( obsolete ) Great in size or degree; vast; strong; powerful; important .
    2. Principal; prime; chief; leading; of chief or pricipal importance. [from 15th c.]
    3. Principal or chief in size or extent; largest; consisting of the largest part; most important by reason or size or strength .
      main timbers; main branch of a river; main body of an army
    4. Full; undivided; sheer ( of strength, force etc. ). [from 16th c.]
    5. ( nautical ) Belonging to or connected with the principal mast in a vessel .
    6. ( dialectal ) Big; angry .
    Derived terms


    main ( comparative more main, superlative most main )

    1. ( UK, dialectal ) Very; very much; greatly; mightily; extremely; exceedingly.

    Etymology 2

    From Old English mægen ( “strength” ), later also taking senses from the adjective .


    main ( plural: mains )

    1. ( obsolete, except in might and main ) Strength; power; force; violent effort. [from 9th c.]
    2. That which is chief or principal; the chief or main portion; the gross; the bulk; the greater part.
    3. ( now archaic, US dialectal ) The mainland. [from 16th c.]
    4. ( now poetic ) The high seas. [from 16th c.]
    5. A large pipe or cable providing utility service to a building or area, such as water main or electric main. [from 17th c.]
    6. ( nautical ) The mainsail. [from 17th c.]
    Derived terms



    • Amin, iman, mani, mina, NAMI

Explanation of main by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. ( of a clause ) capable of standing syntactically alone as a complete sentence

    2. the main ( or independent ) clause in a complex sentence has at least a subject and a verb
    3. most important element

    4. the main doors were of solid glass
    5. of force

    6. by main strength
    1. a principal pipe in a system that distributes water or gas or electricity or that collects sewage

    2. any very large body of ( salt ) water

    Definition of main by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. main ( mān ), n. [F. main hand, L. manus. See Manual.]
      1. A hand or match at dice. Prior. Thackeray.

      2. A stake played for at dice. [Obs.] Shak.

      3. The largest throw in a match at dice; a throw at dice within given limits, as in the game of hazard.

      4. A match at cockfighting. “My lord would ride twenty miles . . . to see a main fought.” Thackeray.

      5. A main-hamper. [Obs.] Ainsworth.

    2. Main, n. [AS. mægen strength, power, force; akin to OHG. magan, Icel. megin, and to E. may, v. √103. See May, v.]
      1. Strength; force; might; violent effort. [Obs., except in certain phrases.]

      There were in this battle of most might and main. R. of Gl.

      He 'gan advance,

      With huge force, and with importable main. Spenser.

      2. The chief or principal part; the main or most important thing. [Obs., except in special uses.]

      Resolved to rest upon the title of Lancaster as the main, and to use the other two . . . but as supporters. Bacon.

      3. Specifically: The great sea, as distinguished from an arm, bay, etc. ; the high sea; the ocean. “Struggling in the main.” Dryden. The continent, as distinguished from an island; the mainland. “Invaded the main of Spain.” Bacon. principal duct or pipe, as distinguished from lesser ones; esp. ( Engin. ), a principal pipe leading to or from a reservoir; as, “a fire main”.

      Forcing main, the delivery pipe of a pump. -- For the main, or In the main, for the most part; in the greatest part. -- With might and main, or With all one's might and main, with all one's strength; with violent effort.

      With might and main they chased the murderous fox. Dryden.

    3. Main ( mān ), a. [From Main strength, possibly influenced by OF. maine, magne, great, L. magnus. Cf. Magnate.]
      1. Very or extremely strong. [Obs.]

      That current with main fury ran. Daniel.

      2. Vast; huge. [Obs.] “The main abyss.” Milton.

      3. Unqualified; absolute; entire; sheer. [Obs.] “It's a man untruth.” Sir W. Scott.

      4. Principal; chief; first in size, rank, importance, etc.; as, “the main reason to go; the main proponent”.

      Our main interest is to be happy as we can. Tillotson.

      5. Important; necessary. [Obs.]

      That which thou aright

      Believest so main to our success, I bring. Milton.

      By main force, by mere force or sheer force; by violent effort; as, “to subdue insurrection by main force”.

      That Maine which by main force Warwick did win. Shak.

      -- By main strength, by sheer strength; as, “to lift a heavy weight by main strength”. -- Main beam ( Steam Engine ), working beam. -- Main boom ( Naut. ), the boom which extends the foot of the mainsail in a fore and aft vessel. -- Main brace. ( Mech. ) The brace which resists the chief strain. Cf. Counter brace. ( Naut. ) The brace attached to the main yard. -- Main center ( Steam Engine ), a shaft upon which a working beam or side lever swings. -- Main chance. See under Chance. -- Main couple ( Arch. ), the principal truss in a roof. -- Main deck ( Naut. ), the deck next below the spar deck; the principal deck. -- Main keel ( Naut. ), the principal or true keel of a vessel, as distinguished from the false keel.

      Syn. -- Principal; chief; leading; cardinal; capital.

    4. Main, adv. [See Main, a.] Very; extremely; as, “main heavy”. “I'm main dry.” Foote. [Obs. or Low]