Dictionary: MAIN – MAIS-TRESS

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MAIN, n.1

  1. Strength; force; violent effort; as in the phrase, “with might and main.” Dryden.
  2. The gross; the bulk; the greater part. The main of them may be reduced to language and an improvement in wisdom. Locke.
  3. The ocean; the great sea, as distinguished from rivers, bays, sounds and the like. He fell, and struggling in the main. Dryden.
  4. The continent, as distinguished from an isle. We arrived at Nantucket on Saturday, but did not reach the main till Monday. In this use of the word, land is omitted; main for main land.
  5. A hamper. Ainsworth.
  6. A course; a duct. Act of Parliament. For the main, in the main, for the most part; in the greatest part.

MAIN, n.2 [L. manus, hand; Fr. main.]

  1. A hand at dice. We throw a merry main. And lucky mains make people wise. [Not used.] Prior.
  2. A match at cock-fighting.


The principal keel, as distinguished from the false keel.


The continent; the principal land, as opposed to an isle. Dryden.

MAIN-LY, adv.

  1. Chiefly; principally. He is mainly occupied with domestic concerns.
  2. Greatly; to a great degree; mightily. Bacon.


The principal mast in a ship or other vessel.

MAIN-OR, n. [Old Fr. manoevre, meinour, L. a manu, from the hand, or in the work.]

The old law phrase, to be taken as a thief with the mainor, signifies to be taken in the very act of killing venison or stealing wood, or in preparing so to do; or it denotes the being taken with the thing stolen upon him. Blackstone.


That may be admitted to give surety by mainpernors; that may be mainprized.

MAIN-PERN'OR, n. [Old Fr. main, the hand, and prendre, to take; pernon, pernez, for prenon, prenez.]

In law, a surety for a prisoner's appearance in court at a day. Mainpernors differ from bail, in that a man's bail may imprison or surrender him before the stipulated day of appearance; mainpernors can do neither; they are bound to produce him to answer all charges whatsoever. Blackstone.

MAIN-PRIZE, n. [Fr. main, hand, and prendre, pris, to take.]

  1. In law, a writ directed to the sherif, commanding him to take sureties for the prisoner's appearance, and to let him go at large. These sureties are called mainpernors. Blackstone.
  2. Deliverance of a prisoner on security for his appearance at a day.


To suffer a prisoner to go at large, on his finding sureties, mainpernors, for his appearance at a day.


Bailed; suffered to go at large, upon giving security for appearance.


The principal sail in a ship. The main-sail of a ship or brig is extended by a yard attached to the main-mast, and that of a sloop, by the boom.


The sheet that extends and fastens the main-sail.

MAIN-SWEAR, v.i. [Sax. manswerian; man, evil, and swerian, to swear.]

To swear falsely; to perjure one's self. Blount.

MAIN-TAIN, v.t. [Fr. maintenir; main, hand, and tenir, to hold; L. manus and teneo.]

  1. To hold, preserve or keep in any particular state or condition; to support; to sustain; not to suffer to fail or decline; as, to maintain a certain degree of heat in a furnace; to maintain the digestive process or powers of the stomach; to maintain the fertility of soil; to maintain present character or reputation.
  2. To hold; to keep; not to lose or surrender; as, to maintain a place or post.
  3. To continue; not to suffer to cease; as, to maintain a conversation.
  4. To keep up; to uphold; to support the expense of; as, to maintain state or equipage. What maintains one vice would bring up two children. Franklin.
  5. To support with food, clothing and other conveniences; as, to maintain a family by trade or labor.
  6. To support by intellectual powers, or by force of reason; as, to maintain an argument.
  7. To support; to defend; to vindicate, to justify; to prove to be just; as, to maintain one's right or cause.
  8. To support by assertion or argument; to affirm. In tragedy and satire, I maintain that this age and the last have excelled the ancients. Dryden.


  1. That may be maintained, supported, preserved or sustained.
  2. That may be defended or kept by force or resistance; as, a military post is not maintainable.
  3. That may be defended by argument or just claim; vindicable; defensible.


Kept in any state; preserved; upheld; supported; defended; vindicated.


One who supports, preserves, sustains, or vindicates.


Supporting; preserving; upholding; defending; vindicating.


  1. Sustenance; sustentation; support by means of supplies of food, clothing and other conveniences; as, his labor contributed little to the maintenance of his family.
  2. Means of support; that which supplies conveniences. Those of better fortune not making learning their maintenance. Swift.
  3. Support; protection; defense; vindication; as, the maintenance of right or just claims.
  4. Continuance; security from failure or decline. Whatever is granted to the church for God's honor and the maintenance of his service, is granted to God. South.
  5. In law, an officious intermeddling in a suit in which the person has no interest, by assisting either party with money or means to prosecute or defend it. This is a punishable offense. But to assist a poor kinsman from compassion, is not maintenance. Encyc.


The top of the main-mast of a ship or brig.


The yard on which the main-sail is extended, supported by the main-mast.

MAIS-TER, n. [for Master, is obsolete. Spenser.]

MAIS-TRESS, n. [for Mistress, is obsolete. Chaucer.]