One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The principal stem of a plant.
2The principal stem of a branching anatomical structure, tree diagram, etc.
3The main course of a river.
4The principal street of a town; specifically. Broadway, New York.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in Nehemiah Grew (a1641–1712), botanist and physician. From main + stem.
main stem/ˌmeɪn ˈstɛm/
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