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’
    • ‘The only way out is the one and only main gate.’
    • ‘His main distinguishing feature was the single black eye patch thrown across his left eye.’
    • ‘Last week saw the main parties fighting to win the battle of the box.’
    • ‘They said nothing more on the short walk back to the main open area where tables had now been set up.’
    • ‘Frequently, teachers would use students as main characters in problem-solving situations.’
    • ‘The main importance of writing is that it provides good evidence.’
    • ‘Upon leaving, walk down St. Paul's steps and make a right turn onto the first main thoroughfare.’
    • ‘With the forthcoming London mayoral elections in June, the three main candidates have thrown their hats into the ring.’
    • ‘Gravel pits along the Hudson Bay coast were the third main environmental concern.’
    • ‘I wandered about, and sat for a while in the main choir listening to the organ.’
    • ‘When pre-season is complete, you are ready to start fighting in the main season.’
    • ‘Inside, the main living area is open plan, with the sitting room separated from the kitchen by an archway.’
    • ‘Because of the anticipated size of the main dishes, we unanimously decided to skip starters.’
    • ‘They appear to have settled chiefly in the north and center of the main island.’
    • ‘Colibacillus from domestic sewage is one of the main reasons area water is below drinking standard.’
    • ‘Here in Australia our main source of electricity is coal, and it's our biggest export earner.’
    • ‘The main TV networks have lost a third of their audience over the past twenty years.’
    • ‘Demand was depressed in the main consuming countries last year, so prices should be falling.’
    • ‘The main road was blocked all day till 5.00 pm when the damaged vehicles were moved by cranes.’
    • ‘The third main thrust of the mission, is to measure the radiation environment around the red planet.’
    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’
    • ‘If you have any questions about the location of the gas main, call your gas company.’
    • ‘Another problem, and one not restricted to the developing world, was the risk of cross contamination of water and sewer mains, he said.’
    • ‘The pipelaying project is part of a multi-million pound programme of improvements to replace old metal gas mains with new plastic pipes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In part of Stricklandgate, the water and gas mains were close together and set in protective concrete.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Workmen laying a gas pipe drilled through an existing main, causing gas to seep into the cellar of the house.’
    • ‘The problem was sparked by a burst water pipe on Monday which leaked into the gas mains.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was also delivering water to the camp, where many mains and sewage pipes are broken.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The current flood and two of the previous floods were caused by burst pipes or mains and Essex and Suffolk Water have admitted responsibility.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Water mains and gas, sewer, telephone, and electrical systems were disrupted through the area.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1British 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.’
  • 2literary, archaic 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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And then we shall henceforth decide by main force what truth and goodness shall be.’
  • in the main

    • On the whole; chiefly.

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

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.

Main definitions of main in English

: main1main2

Main

proper noun

  • A river of southwestern Germany that rises in northern Bavaria and flows west for 310 miles (500 km), through Frankfurt to meet the Rhine River at Mainz.