Meaning of MAIN in English

I. ˈmān noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English mægen; akin to Old Saxon & Old High German magan, megin strength, main part, Old Norse magn, megin, strength, mega to be able — more at may

1. : physical strength : power — used in the phrase with might and main



[by shortening]

: mainland


[short for obsolete English main sea, from main (II) + sea ]

: high sea


[ main (II) ]

: the chief or principal part : the essential point

the main of the lady's history — Robert Browning

he is one of those writers who, in the main , leave me cold — J.D.Adams

4. obsolete : end , purpose , object

5. : a pipe, duct, or circuit to or from which lead tributary branches of a utility system and which carries their combined flow

water main

gas main

sewer main

electric main

— compare bus bar , lateral


[by shortening]

a. : mainmast

b. : mainsail

II. adjective

Etymology: Middle English mayn, from Old English mægen-, from mægen, n.

1. : outstanding, conspicuous, or first in any respect : great , preeminent : principal

the main office is located in New York

just inside the solid-glass main doors — Sylvia Gray

the main reason that any businessman can understand — Wall Street Journal

2. now chiefly dialect : large in amount, effect, or extent : great


a. obsolete : having or manifesting great strength or power : mighty

soaring on main wing — John Milton

b. : fully exerted : sheer

keep her in bed by main force — Edna Ferber

4. obsolete : of or relating to wide reaches or expanse (as of sea or land)

5. : connected with or located near the mainmast or mainsail

6. : expressing the chief predication in a complex sentence

main clause

main predicate

main verb

Synonyms: see chief

III. noun

( -s )

Etymology: probably from main (II)


a. : a number exceeding four and not exceeding nine called by the caster in the game of hazard before throwing

b. : line 13a


a. : an archery match

b. archaic : a boxing match

c. archaic : a lawn bowling match

3. : a cockfight series consisting of an odd number of matches

got himself a fighting cock … and was making himself a little money in the chicken mains — Erskine Caldwell

IV. adverb

Etymology: probably from main (II)

now dialect : very , extremely

it was main hot — R.L.Stevenson

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.