Main definitions of main in English

: main1main2

main1

adjective

  • [attributive] Chief in size or importance:

    ‘a main road’
    ‘the main problem is one of resources’
    • ‘Because of the anticipated size of the main dishes, we unanimously decided to skip starters.’
    • ‘With the forthcoming London mayoral elections in June, the three main candidates have thrown their hats into the ring.’
    • ‘His main distinguishing feature was the single black eye patch thrown across his left eye.’
    • ‘Gravel pits along the Hudson Bay coast were the third main environmental concern.’
    • ‘Last week saw the main parties fighting to win the battle of the box.’
    • ‘They appear to have settled chiefly in the north and center of the main island.’
    • ‘The main road was blocked all day till 5.00 pm when the damaged vehicles were moved by cranes.’
    • ‘I wandered about, and sat for a while in the main choir listening to the organ.’
    • ‘Colibacillus from domestic sewage is one of the main reasons area water is below drinking standard.’
    • ‘The third main thrust of the mission, is to measure the radiation environment around the red planet.’
    • ‘The only way out is the one and only main gate.’
    • ‘When pre-season is complete, you are ready to start fighting in the main season.’
    • ‘The main importance of writing is that it provides good evidence.’
    • ‘Demand was depressed in the main consuming countries last year, so prices should be falling.’
    • ‘Upon leaving, walk down St. Paul's steps and make a right turn onto the first main thoroughfare.’
    • ‘Frequently, teachers would use students as main characters in problem-solving situations.’
    • ‘Inside, the main living area is open plan, with the sitting room separated from the kitchen by an archway.’
    • ‘The main TV networks have lost a third of their audience over the past twenty years.’
    • ‘They said nothing more on the short walk back to the main open area where tables had now been set up.’
    • ‘Here in Australia our main source of electricity is coal, and it's our biggest export earner.’
    principal, chief, head, leading, foremost, most important, major, ruling, dominant, central, focal, key, prime, master, premier, primary, first, high, grand, fundamental, supreme, predominant, pre-eminent, paramount, overriding, cardinal, crucial, vital, critical, capital, pivotal, salient, elemental, essential, staple, intrinsic, urgent
    View synonyms

noun

  • 1A principal pipe carrying water or gas to buildings, or taking sewage from them:

    [with modifier] ‘a faulty gas main’
    • ‘Numerous leaks have developed from broken water pipes and mains.’
    • ‘Water would also begin to be a problem as the rubble thrown out by the blast dammed the river, which soon started to overflow its banks where its waters mixed with sewage from broken mains.’
    • ‘We are accelerating this work, and by 2010 will have renewed over 1,100 miles of water mains in London.’
    • ‘Because of this, the water main was above the gas main, and had been encased in concrete to protect it from the heavy traffic above.’
    • ‘The current flood and two of the previous floods were caused by burst pipes or mains and Essex and Suffolk Water have admitted responsibility.’
    • ‘Another problem, and one not restricted to the developing world, was the risk of cross contamination of water and sewer mains, he said.’
    • ‘It was also delivering water to the camp, where many mains and sewage pipes are broken.’
    • ‘Workers have completed repairs, but were today still pumping water out of the gas main before restoring supplies.’
    • ‘Council heard upgrades to the water and sewer mains there will need upgrading to properly service the proposed affordable housing complex on the former community hall site.’
    • ‘The problem was sparked by a burst water pipe on Monday which leaked into the gas mains.’
    • ‘Since the overwhelming majority of us are connected to the electricity grid, gas mains or both, the scourge of indoor air pollution is not a killer.’
    • ‘If you have any questions about the location of the gas main, call your gas company.’
    • ‘The first phase of roadworks, which will involve replacing existing gas mains with modern plastic piping, started in Cambridge Road, near the junction with Park Road, on Monday.’
    • ‘Workmen laying a gas pipe drilled through an existing main, causing gas to seep into the cellar of the house.’
    • ‘There were reports of broken water and gas mains around northern Kyushu, and bullet trains and other railways and subways suspended operations, but later resumed running.’
    • ‘Water mains and gas, sewer, telephone, and electrical systems were disrupted through the area.’
    • ‘The pipelaying project is part of a multi-million pound programme of improvements to replace old metal gas mains with new plastic pipes.’
    • ‘In part of Stricklandgate, the water and gas mains were close together and set in protective concrete.’
    • ‘The area the city you're talking about, we did have a lot of water in the gas mains, the low pressure gas lines that were affected.’
    • ‘Chris Watts, 40, of Peldon, was using a mechanical digger in the front garden of a house in London Road, Marks Tey, when he hit electricity and gas mains.’
    1. 1.1 A principal cable carrying electricity.
      • ‘Faulks said the alarm was not properly connected to electrical mains and would have had to rely on a back-up battery even if switched on.’
    2. 1.2the mainsBritish The source of public water, gas, or electricity supply through pipes or cables:
      ‘the camcorder can be run directly off the mains’
      [as modifier] ‘switch off the mains supply’
      • ‘Contractors were at the scene by about 9am to dig up the road and repair the mains.’
      • ‘Though the ‘property’ has no running water, no gas supply, no mains electricity and the nearest car park is two miles away, it does boast a solar roof panel, a cylinder gas kitchenette and a bunk bed.’
      • ‘Improved water pressure means most of the chemistry department's needs can now be met by the mains supply.’
      • ‘One room under construction will be an Internet cafe, yet there is no mains electricity here to run air conditioning.’
      • ‘Crina Bottom, a detached house nestling in the heart of the famous Dales landscape, does not have mains electricity and is serviced by a generator which runs on oil.’
      • ‘However, it would be possible to install a standby generator, which would ensure power in the event of a failure of the mains supply.’
      • ‘Power supply units can either be a battery unit or transformer which adjusts mains power to the correct level for an appliance.’
      • ‘Make sure that you know how to switch off the mains supply at the fuse box, and store spare fuses in a handy place.’
      • ‘The owner will have to install private drainage, link up to the mains water and electricity and rebuild the property under the watchful eye of the park planners.’
      • ‘An oil-fired Rayburn in the fitted kitchen provides heating and hot water, while the house has mains electricity.’
      • ‘A tall Christmas tree will light up outside a farmhouse in Watendlath today as the last Lake District hamlet is connected to mains electricity.’
      • ‘Amenities to the main house include oil-fired central heating to most of the rooms, mains electricity and a private water supply.’
      • ‘Future versions of the car could include batteries that can be recharged from mains electricity.’
      • ‘We had taken the precaution of bringing the car battery charger from England, but that is not much use if you have no mains electricity.’
      • ‘Officers are advising anyone who has purchased a set of the lights to examine the lampholders while they are disconnected from the mains supply.’
      • ‘The distribution network needed to be replaced with new piping, with suitably sized mains to provide adequate supply to all areas of the scheme.’
      • ‘A spokesman for Essex and Suffolk Water, who sent technicians on Friday, said that a leak had been found in the mains water supply.’
      • ‘In these circumstances, the user could be exposed to electrical shock if the other end of the power lead is still connected to the mains electrical supply.’
      • ‘Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains.’
      • ‘The Kershaws have no mains electricity or sewer, they drink untreated spring water and sometimes use candle light.’
  • 2the mainarchaic, literary The open ocean.

  • 3Nautical

    short for mainsail or mainmast
    • ‘I told him not to touch the main, and to let go the port jib sheet and haul it in starboard side.’

Phrases

  • by main force

    • Through sheer strength:

      ‘we will prevail not by main force but by negotiation’
      • ‘Lex was carted back to the nursery by main force, and Lionel buried himself in his work, ignoring the howls that echoed down the hallway.’
      • ‘The initial reflex of the regime was to do what it has always done, i.e. crushing the slightest show of opposition by main force.’
      • ‘He refused to comply with Henry's demand to accept a delay in payment and set about collecting his due by main force.’
      • ‘This caused the walls to sink and split, allowing an assault to be made on the breach by main force, hopefully bringing the siege to a speedy conclusion.’
      • ‘The point of the author is that the accursed sons are trying to claim the blessing given to Shem by main force, as though power and strength are our salvation.’
      • ‘And then we shall henceforth decide by main force what truth and goodness shall be.’
  • in the main

    • On the whole:

      ‘we must remember that in the main we are thinking about these designs as decoration’
      • ‘The Church was vibrant, tolerant and its priests were in the main, hard working.’
      • ‘The food itself, even though important, is, in the main, a way of coalescing social life.’
      • ‘While the Carlow defence in the main was solid there were far too many missed tackles.’
      • ‘The way the law is going, these birds continue in the main to be protected.’
      • ‘It was a victory etched out in the main through a team effort and a very fine one at that.’
      • ‘The scheme will be funded in the main by developers building houses at Nursteed Meadows.’
      • ‘It pays, though, to take note of these things and, in the main, to abide by them.’
      • ‘These, in the main, are young people committing offences against other young people.’
      • ‘I think, in the main, our members would prefer face to face meetings more regularly.’
      • ‘That issue was dealt with in the main in written submissions following the hearing.’
      mostly, for the most part, on the whole, largely, by and large, to a large extent, to a great degree, predominantly, chiefly, principally
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English: from Old English mægen ‘physical force’, reinforced by Old Norse meginn, megn strong, powerful, both from a Germanic base meaning have power.

Pronunciation:

main

/meɪn/

Main definitions of main in English

: main1main2

main2

noun

  • 1(in the game of hazard) a number (5, 6, 7, 8, or 9) called by a player before dice are thrown.

  • 2historical A match between fighting cocks.

    • ‘At a big cockfight main with Massa Lea early during the 1824 season, Uncle Mingo heard from an old trainer he had known for years that a hackfight was due to be held that coming Saturday afternoon behind the large barn of a local plantation.’

Origin

Late 16th century: probably from the phrase main chance.

Pronunciation:

main

/meɪn/

Main definitions of main in English

: main1main2

Main

proper noun

  • A river of SW Germany which rises in northern Bavaria and flows 500 km (310 miles) westwards, through Frankfurt, to meet the Rhine at Mainz.

Pronunciation:

Main

/meɪn/