see also: Main
Pronunciation Adjective

main (not comparable)

  1. Of chief#Adjective|chief or leading#Adjective|leading importance; prime#Adjective|prime, principal#Adjective|principal. [from 15th c.]
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter VII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071 ↗, page 77 ↗:
      With some of it on the south and more of it on the north of the great main thoroughfare that connects Aldgate and the East India Docks, St. Bede's at this period of its history was perhaps the poorest and most miserable parish in the East End of London.
  2. Chief, most important, or principal in extent, size#Noun|size, or strength; consisting of the largest part.
    Synonyms: largest
    main timbers  main branch of a river  main body of an army
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VI ↗”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗, lines 470–471:
      Not uninvented that, which thou aright / Beleivſt ſo main to our ſucceſs, I bring; I shall never forget the diabolical sneer which writhed Rashleigh's wayward features, as I was forced from the apartment by the main strength of two of these youthful Titans.
    • 1825 June 21, [Walter Scott], chapter IV, in Tales of the Crusaders. [...] In Four Volumes, volume I (The Betrothed), Edinburgh: Printed [by James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 5584494 ↗, page 71 ↗:
      Wounded and overthrown, the Britons continued their resistance, clung round the legs of the Norman steeds, and cumbered their advance; while their brethren, thrusting with pikes, proved every joint and crevice of the plate and mail, or grappling with the men-at-arms, strove to pull them from their horses by main force, or beat them down with their bills and Welch hooks.
  3. (dialectal) Big; angry.
  4. (nautical) Belonging to or connected with the principal mast in a vessel.
  5. (obsolete) great#Adjective|Great in size or degree; important, powerful, strong, vast.
Translations Adverb


  1. (Britain, dialectal) Exceedingly, extremely, greatly, mightily, very, very much.

main (mains, present participle maining; past and past participle mained)

  1. (transitive) Short for mainline#English|mainline (“to inject (a drug#Noun|drug) directly into a vein”).
  2. (transitive, gaming) To mainly play#Verb|play a specific character, or side#Noun|side, during a game#Noun|game.
    He mains the same character as me in that game.
    What race do you main and what is your favourite race to beat?
  3. (obsolete) Of a road: to convert#Verb|convert into a main or primary road.

main (plural mains)

  1. That which is chief#Adjective|chief or principal#Adjective|principal; the chief or main portion; the bulk#Noun|bulk, the greater part#Noun|part, gross#Noun|gross.
    1. (video gaming) The primary character that one play#Verb|plays in a video game in which one can play more than one character.
      Antonyms: alt
      My WoW main has reached level cap and I’m on my way getting my first alt there as well.
  2. A large cable#Noun|cable or pipe#Noun|pipe providing utility service#Noun|service to an area or a building#Noun|building, such as a water main or electric main. [from 17th c.]
  3. (informal) Short for main course#English|main course (“the principal dish#Noun|dish of a meal”).
    I had scampi and chips for my main and a slice of cheesecake for dessert.
  4. (now, poetic) The high seas. [from 16th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. […], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938 ↗, book II, canto VI, stanza 17, page 261 ↗:
      Who ſhall him rue#English|rew, that ſwimming in the maine, / Will die for thriſt, and water doth refuſe? / Refuſe ſuch fruitleſſe toile, and preſent pleaſures chuſe.
    • 1697, “The Fifth Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. […], London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, […], OCLC 403869432 ↗, lines 1115–1119, page 360 ↗:
      The God, inſulting with ſuperiour Strength, / Fell heavy on him, plung'd him in the Sea, / And, with the Stern, the Rudder tore away, / Headlong he fell, and, ſtrugling in the Main, / Cry'd out for helping hands, but cry'd in vain: {{...}
  5. (now, archaic, US dialectal) The mainland. [from 16th c.]
    • 1624, John Donne, “17. Meditation”, in Deuotions upon Emergent Occasions, and Seuerall Steps in My Sicknes: […], London: Printed by A[ugustine] M[atthews] for Thomas Iones, OCLC 55189476 ↗; republished as Geoffrey Keynes, John Sparrow, editor, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions: […], Cambridge: At the University Press, 1923, OCLC 459265555 ↗, lines 2–3, page 98 ↗:
      No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; {{...}
    • 1624, Anthony Bagnall; Nathanaell Powell; Anas Todkill, “Chapter V. The Accidents that Hapned in the Discovery of the Bay of Chisapeack”, in John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: […], London: Printed by I[ohn] D[awson] and I[ohn] H[aviland] for Michael Sparkes, OCLC 1049014009 ↗, book 3; reprinted in The Generall Historie of Virginia, [...] (Bibliotheca Americana), Cleveland, Oh.: The World Publishing Company, 1966, OCLC 633956660 ↗, page 56 ↗:
      The higheſt land on the mayne, yet it was but low, we called Keales hill, and theſe vninhabited Iſles, Ruſſels Iſles.
    • 1851 November 13, Herman Melville, “Knights and Squires”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299 ↗, page 131 ↗:
      Tashtego's long, lean, sable hair, his high cheek bones, and black rounding eyes— […] all this sufficiently proclaimed him an inheritor of the unvitiated blood of those proud warrior hunters, who, in quest of the great New England moose, had scoured, bow in hand, the aboriginal forests of the main.
  6. (nautical) Short for mainsail#English|mainsail. [from 17th c.]
  7. (obsolete, except in might and main) force#Noun|Force, power#Noun|power, strength, violent effort. [from 9th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. […], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938 ↗, book II, canto IX, stanza 14, page 311 ↗:
      For with ſuch puiſſance and impetuous maine / Thoſe Champions broke on them, that forſt the fly, / Like ſcattered Sheepe, whenas the Shepherds ſwaine / A Lyon and a Tigre doth eſpye, / With greedy pace forth ruſhing from the foreſt nye.
  • German: Hauptleitung

main (plural mains)

  1. (obsolete, gaming) A hand#Noun|hand or match#Noun|match in a game#Noun|game of dice.
  2. (obsolete, gaming) The largest throw#Noun|throw in a match at dice; in the game of hazard#Noun|hazard, a number#Noun|number from one to nine call out#Verb|called out by a person before the dice are thrown.
  3. (obsolete, gaming) A stake#Noun|stake played for at dice.
    • c. 1597, [William Shakespeare], The History of Henrie the Fovrth; […], quarto edition, London: Printed by P[eter] S[hort] for Andrew Wise, […], published 1598, OCLC 932916628 ↗, [Act IV, scene i] ↗:
      [W]ere it good / To ſet the exact wealth of al our ſtates / Al at one caſt? to ſet ſo rich a maine / On the nice hazard of one doubtfull houre?
      Is it good / To bet all of our wealth / On one throw of the dice? To place so high a stake / On the risky hazard of one doubtful hour?
  4. (obsolete, gaming, sports) A sporting#Adjective|sporting contest#Noun|contest or match, especially a cockfighting match.
    • 1852, William Makepeace Thackeray, “After Good Fortune Comes Evil”, in The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. […] In Three Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for Smith, Elder, & Company, […], OCLC 1003921571 ↗, page 171 ↗:
      My lord was hunting all day when the ſeaſon admitted; he frequented all the cockfights and fairs in the country, and would ride twenty miles to ſee a main fought, or two clowns break their heads at a cudgelling match; {{...}
  5. A banker's shovel for coins.

main (plural mains)

  1. (obsolete, rare) A basket for gathering grapes.

Proper noun
  1. A river in southern Germany, flowing from Bavaria to the Rhine.
  2. A river in Northern Ireland, flowing into Lough Neagh.
  • French: Main
  • German: Main
  • Italian: Meno
  • Portuguese: Meno
  • Russian: Майн
  • Spanish: Meno

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