Definition of mainspring in US English:



  • 1Something that plays a principal part in motivating or maintaining a movement, process, or activity.

    ‘innovation is the mainspring of the new economy’
    • ‘Janos' argument convincingly explains the mainsprings of politics and economics in modern times.’
    • ‘Insofar as these positions identify the forces prevalent in bringing the Cold War to an end, as well as their trajectories, they provide clues to the mainsprings of the order that has since ensued.’
    • ‘Envy and greed were the mainsprings of their creativity; it would have been more accurate if some of them had been called the Envious Young Men.’
    • ‘They're a principal source of visual ‘contrasts’ and ‘collisions’ and a mainspring of Soviet montage theory.’
    • ‘Informing and informers are the mainsprings that wind up this play, its characters, and the audience.’
    • ‘The organization of Heyd's book blends both chronological and thematic approaches, with thematic mainsprings taking precedence.’
    • ‘The mainspring of his production has been pleasure.’
    • ‘The mainsprings of British empire building have always been argued over vigorously.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, such traditions have the power to evoke ‘real’ feelings that are mainsprings of ‘real’ agency.’
    • ‘The vital mainspring in this process is the party, just as the vital mainspring in the mechanism of the party is its leadership.’
    • ‘It is worth looking more closely at the mainsprings of this unease.’
    • ‘Before we search out the mainsprings of his scholarly craftsmanship, let us take a stroll with Mike.’
    • ‘Innovation is the mainspring of the new economy.’
    • ‘The two mainsprings of life are radical heat and radical moisture.’
    • ‘In short, cybercash is viewed as the mainspring in the emergence of ‘virtual capitalism’’
    • ‘Arnold Fanck's The New Land attempted to explain the cultural mainsprings of Japanese conduct; but despite fine photography it failed to attract Japanese audiences.’
    • ‘Instead of personal gain-seeking being viewed as the mainspring of progress, it was perceived to sow the seeds for economic polarization, and hence social discord and decay.’
    • ‘In Murphy's account, the mainspring of Douglas's public career was his aching, but never fulfilled, ambition for the presidency.’
    • ‘He is one of the mainsprings in the Australian sporting fraternity and has served in various capacities.’
    • ‘In other words, the mainspring of human progress is freedom.’
    motive, motivation, impetus, driving force, incentive, impulse, cause, prime mover, reason, origin, fountain, fount, beginning, root, generator, basis
    View synonyms
  • 2The principal spring in a watch, clock, or other mechanism.

    • ‘This tool is designed for the Vee type mainsprings, but can also be used on the newer coil type mainspring Miroku's.’
    • ‘Some repair shops are using mainsprings that are too strong for your clock.’
    • ‘Elgin made many different mainsprings over the years, with some part numbers replacing others as time went on.’
    • ‘The actual percussion lock has been modernized to include a coil mainspring and parts proven reliable and trouble-free.’
    • ‘Sizes 00 to 15, for a total of 17 right-hand mainspring winders.’
    • ‘Both mainsprings are so long that winding them conventionally via the crown would be unfeasible.’
    • ‘I would be very careful in replacing a mainspring with one that is less than half as strong as the former.’
    • ‘Alarm clocks may be either single, or, double train dependant upon the number of mainsprings utilized by the movement.’
    • ‘The biggest problem was how to compress those factory mainsprings that defy attempts at compression.’
    • ‘What they've done is built a locking mechanism into the mainspring housing of the 1911 design.’
    • ‘We also inventory turntables, gears, mainsprings, belts, needles and many many other hard to find components.’
    • ‘To avoid damage and injury, the mainsprings must be let down to relieve them of their power before anything is done to the movement.’
    • ‘The mainspring, and other parts do need to be checked and cleaned a little further.’
    • ‘Also, the gear train of a mechanical watch is under constant load from the mainspring whereas the gear train in a quartz watch is not under any load.’
    • ‘It happens to make great coiled steel mainsprings, too, so many airgun springs are made from it.’
    • ‘You are rotating and moving the loaded cylinder forward as well as extending the breech block while compressing the mainspring and cylinder hushing spring.’
    • ‘‘When you take the slide off the frame, the mainspring is either a captured-type or loose,’ Jorgensen says.’
    • ‘The green part of the book tells us what mainsprings can be used of different calibers by different watches.’
    • ‘With the slide locked open, two small tabs on either side of the frame can be pushed down to allow the slide, mainspring, and spring/guide assembly to be removed for routine cleaning.’
    • ‘If we were told that there was a watch without a mainspring, we would hardly be reassured by the further information that it had, however, an infinite train of gear-wheels.’