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’
    • ‘The vital mainspring in this process is the party, just as the vital mainspring in the mechanism of the party is its leadership.’
    • ‘The two mainsprings of life are radical heat and radical moisture.’
    • ‘He is one of the mainsprings in the Australian sporting fraternity and has served in various capacities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In Murphy's account, the mainspring of Douglas's public career was his aching, but never fulfilled, ambition for the presidency.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Janos' argument convincingly explains the mainsprings of politics and economics in modern times.’
    • ‘In other words, the mainspring of human progress is freedom.’
    • ‘The mainsprings of British empire building have always been argued over vigorously.’
    • ‘It is worth looking more closely at the mainsprings of this unease.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Before we search out the mainsprings of his scholarly craftsmanship, let us take a stroll with Mike.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, such traditions have the power to evoke ‘real’ feelings that are mainsprings of ‘real’ agency.’
    • ‘In short, cybercash is viewed as the mainspring in the emergence of ‘virtual capitalism’’
    • ‘Innovation is the mainspring of the new economy.’
    • ‘They're a principal source of visual ‘contrasts’ and ‘collisions’ and a mainspring of Soviet montage theory.’
    • ‘The mainspring of his production has been pleasure.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Both mainsprings are so long that winding them conventionally via the crown would be unfeasible.’
    • ‘Alarm clocks may be either single, or, double train dependant upon the number of mainsprings utilized by the movement.’
    • ‘I would be very careful in replacing a mainspring with one that is less than half as strong as the former.’
    • ‘We also inventory turntables, gears, mainsprings, belts, needles and many many other hard to find components.’
    • ‘Sizes 00 to 15, for a total of 17 right-hand mainspring winders.’
    • ‘The mainspring, and other parts do need to be checked and cleaned a little further.’
    • ‘Elgin made many different mainsprings over the years, with some part numbers replacing others as time went on.’
    • ‘This tool is designed for the Vee type mainsprings, but can also be used on the newer coil type mainspring Miroku's.’
    • ‘The biggest problem was how to compress those factory mainsprings that defy attempts at compression.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The actual percussion lock has been modernized to include a coil mainspring and parts proven reliable and trouble-free.’
    • ‘Some repair shops are using mainsprings that are too strong for your clock.’
    • ‘It happens to make great coiled steel mainsprings, too, so many airgun springs are made from it.’
    • ‘What they've done is built a locking mechanism into the mainspring housing of the 1911 design.’
    • ‘You are rotating and moving the loaded cylinder forward as well as extending the breech block while compressing the mainspring and cylinder hushing spring.’
    • ‘To avoid damage and injury, the mainsprings must be let down to relieve them of their power before anything is done to the movement.’
    • ‘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.’