Meaning of MAIN in English


1. more important than anything else

2. the main part of a problem, idea, or belief

3. the main ideas in a speech, piece of writing etc

4. ways of stating the main reason for something or the main part of something


see also





1. more important than anything else

▷ main /meɪn/ [adjective only before noun]

more important than anything else :

▪ Ben’s main problem was lack of money.

▪ You should clearly state your main idea at the beginning of the essay.

▪ We walked up the stairs to the main entrance of the building.

▪ The main reason kids don’t get vaccinated is that parents don’t realize how important it is.

▷ chief/principal /tʃiːf, ˈprɪnsə̇p ə l/ [adjective only before noun]

more important than anything else. Chief and principal mean the same as main, but they are used especially in written or formal English :

▪ Coffee is the country’s principal export.

▪ Kendall’s chief complaint about the opera is that the characters are not historically accurate.

▪ The chief purpose of the march was to draw attention to the poor condition of schools.

▷ major /ˈmeɪdʒəʳ/ [adjective only before noun]

one of the most important or serious things - use this especially when there is a small number of really important things, but a larger number of less important things :

▪ Smoking is a major cause of heart disease.

▪ I thought we agreed to talk to each other before making any major decisions.

major city

large and important city

▪ Gang activity that was limited to major cities has now spilled over to towns and rural areas.

▷ key /kiː/ [adjective usually before noun]

a key person or thing is one that is the most important because everything depends on them :

▪ We don’t have much time, so let’s concentrate on the key issues.

▪ Transport and communications are key areas of the economy.

be key to (doing) something

▪ Laws are key to maintaining an orderly society.

▷ primary /ˈpraɪm ə riǁ-meri/ [adjective only before noun]

primary concern/responsibility/reason/role etc

the most important one :

▪ As always, security is our primary concern.

▪ Financial reward is the primary reason most people work.

▷ prime /praɪm/ [adjective only before noun]

prime suspect/target/candidate

the one most likely to be chosen :

▪ Tourists are prime targets for theft and robbery.

▪ The FBI regarded him as its prime suspect in the case.

▪ Cheryl is a prime candidate for the new managerial position.

▷ predominant /prɪˈdɒmɪnənt, prɪˈdɒmənəntǁ-ˈdɑː-/ [adjective]

more noticeable, more powerful, or more common than others :

▪ Yellow is the predominant color in most of his paintings.

▪ When we visited the country, our predominant impression was one of poverty and hardship.

▷ core /kɔːʳ/ [adjective usually before noun]

use this about the main and most important parts of a subject, activity, plan etc :

▪ We concentrate most on teaching the core skills of reading, writing, and mathematics.

▪ The government will discuss what they say are the core issues of education and health care.

2. the main part of a problem, idea, or belief

▷ crux /krʌks/ [singular noun]

the most important part of a difficult problem, a question, or an argument etc that must be dealt with or understood before any further progress can be made :

▪ Whether we can get funding or not is the crux.

the crux of the matter/problem/question etc

▪ Finding a cheap source of energy is really the crux of the matter.

▪ The crux of the court case is whether consumers deserve a refund.

▷ essence /ˈes ə ns/ [singular noun]

the main feature or quality that gives something its own special character :

the essence of something

▪ Equality is the essence of democracy.

▪ The essence of his teachings can be summed up in the phrase ‘Know yourself.’

▷ heart /hɑːʳt/ [singular noun]

the most important part of a problem, consideration, question etc :

the heart of the matter/problem/question etc

▪ Let’s stop talking about irrelevant issues, and get to the heart of the matter.

lie at the heart of something

▪ Money always lies at the heart of our fights.

go/get to the heart of something

▪ This new book gets to the heart of the controversy over nuclear power.

▷ core /kɔːʳ/ [singular noun]

the main part of an idea, belief, way of thinking etc, that everything else depends on :

the core of something

▪ The core of the play’s appeal is that the good guys win in the end.

to the core of something

▪ She had the ability to cut through to the core of a problem.

at the core of something

▪ The profit motive is at the core of the capitalist system.

▷ the bottom line /ðə ˌbɒtəm ˈlaɪnǁ-ˌbɑː-/ [noun phrase]

the main fact about a situation, that must be accepted and cannot be changed or avoided :

▪ Most people want to work in a place where they feel valued. That’s the bottom line.

the bottom line is

▪ The bottom line is, he’s gone and he’s not coming back.

3. the main ideas in a speech, piece of writing etc

▷ the main/key points /ðə ˌmeɪn, ˌkiː ˈpɔɪnts/ [noun phrase]

the main ideas or the basic meaning of a speech, piece of writing etc :

▪ I made a few notes of the main points I wanted to cover in the speech.

▪ The following article explains four key points that all new investors should understand.

▷ the gist /ðə ˈdʒɪst/ [singular noun]

the general meaning of a speech, argument, piece of writing etc, without all the details :

the gist of

▪ The gist of the article is that children should have more rights in deciding their own futures.

get the gist

understand the general meaning

▪ I couldn’t hear everything they said but I got the gist.

▷ the thrust of something /ðə ˈθrʌst əv something/ [noun phrase]

the main aim or purpose of an argument, speech, or political action :

▪ The whole thrust of the US policy was to isolate Cuba.

▪ The thrust of the case is whether the federal law overrides the state ban.

▷ essentials /ɪˈsenʃ ə lz/ [plural noun]

the most important facts or ideas in a statement, for example in a description of events or a set of arguments or opinions :

▪ When reduced to their essentials, most religions are not so different.

essentials of

▪ She was always very quick to grasp the essentials of an opponent’s argument.

4. ways of stating the main reason for something or the main part of something

▷ mainly /ˈmeɪnli/ [adverb]

use this to say what the main reason for something or the main part of something is :

▪ I was asked to lead the meeting mainly because Kristin is out of town.

▪ My new job’s fairly boring - it’s mainly typing.

▪ The company sells its batteries mainly through electronics stores.

▷ largely/chiefly /ˈlɑːʳdʒli, ˈtʃiːfli/ [adverb]

largely and chiefly mean the same as mainly, but they are used especially in written or formal English :

▪ The bird lives chiefly on mice and other small animals.

▪ The report says that drug use is largely responsible for the 40% rise in the city’s homicide rate.

▪ Money raised by the new tax is to be used chiefly for road construction.

▷ primarily/principally /ˈpraɪm ə rəliǁpraɪˈmerəli, ˈprɪnsə̇pli/ [adverb]

firstly and most importantly :

▪ Foreign aid is intended principally for the south of the region.

▪ The agency is primarily concerned with making sure the nation’s food supplies are safe.

▪ She has a degree in anthropology, but she’s primarily a writer.

▷ above all /əˌbʌv ˈɔːl/ [adverb]

most importantly compared to other things, especially ones you have just mentioned :

▪ Above all, she will be remembered for all the work she did in the community.

▪ Teaching history means above all knowing how to tell a story.

▷ first and foremost /ˌfɜːʳst ənd ˈfɔːʳməʊst/ [adverb]

use this to say that something is the most important thing, and needs to be dealt with before anything else and given attention before anything else :

▪ First and foremost, they are looking for ways to save money.

▪ What children need first and foremost from their parents is a sense of security.

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