1 [meyn]
chief in size, extent, or importance; principal; leading: the company's main office; the main features of a plan.
sheer; utmost, as strength or force: to lift a stone by main force.
of or pertaining to a broad expanse: main sea.
Grammar. syntactically independent; capable of use in isolation. Compare dependent ( def 4 ), independent ( def 14 ), main clause.
of or pertaining to a mainmast.
noting or pertaining to a sail, yard, boom, etc., or to any rigging belonging to a mainmast.
noting any stay running aft and upward to the head of a mainmast: main topmast stay.
having or exerting great strength or force; mighty.
having momentous or important results; significant.
a principal pipe or duct in a system used to distribute water, gas, etc.
physical strength, power, or force: to struggle with might and main.
the chief or principal part or point: The main of their investments was lost during the war.
Literary. the open ocean; high sea: the bounding main.
the mainland.
South Midland U.S. (chiefly Appalachian) . very; exceedingly: The dogs treed a main big coon.
verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
Slang. mainline.
in the main, for the most part; chiefly: In the main, the novel was dull reading.

before 900; (noun) Middle English meyn, mayn strength, power, Old English mægen, cognate with Old Norse megin(n), megn strength; (adj.) Middle English mayn, partly < Old Norse megenn, megn strong, partly independent use of Old English mægen (noun) taken as an adj. in compounds, as in mægen-weorc, literally, work of might

1. cardinal, prime, paramount, primary, capital. 2. pure, direct. 7. conduit. 8. might.

1. secondary, least. 8. weakness. Unabridged


2 [meyn]
a cockfighting match.

1560–70; perhaps special use of main1; compare main chance


[meyn; German mahyn]
a river in central and W Germany, flowing W from the Bohemian Forest in N Bavaria into the Rhine at Mainz. 305 miles (490 km) long. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
main1 (meɪn)
1.  chief or principal in rank, importance, size, etc
2.  sheer or utmost (esp in the phrase by main force)
3.  nautical of, relating to, or denoting any gear, such as a stay or sail, belonging to the mainmast
4.  obsolete significant or important
5.  a principal pipe, conduit, duct, or line in a system used to distribute water, electricity, etc
6.  (plural)
 a.  the main distribution network for water, gas, or electricity
 b.  (as modifier): mains voltage
7.  the chief or most important part or consideration
8.  great strength or force (now chiefly in the phrase (with) might and main)
9.  literary the open ocean
10.  archaic short for Spanish Main
11.  archaic short for mainland
12.  in the main, for the main on the whole; for the most part
[C13: from Old English mægen strength]

main2 (meɪn)
1.  a throw of the dice in dice games
2.  a cockfighting contest
3.  a match in archery, boxing, etc
[C16: of unknown origin]

Main (meɪn, German main)
a river in central and W Germany, flowing west through Würzburg and Frankfurt to the Rhine. Length: about 515 km (320 miles)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. mægen (n.) "power, strength, force," from P.Gmc. *maginam- "power," from *mag- "be able, have power" (see may). Original sense preserved in phrase with might and main. Meaning "principal channel in a utility system" is first recorded 1727 in main drain; Used since
1548 for "continuous stretch of land or water."

early 13c., "large, bulky, strong," from O.E. mægen- "power, strength, force," used in compounds (see main (n.)), probably infl. by O.N. megenn (adj.) "strong, powerful." Sense of "chief" is c.1400. In Spanish Main the word is short for mainland and refers to the coast
between Panama and Orinoco. Main man "favorite male friend, hero" is from 1967, U.S. black slang.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

main definition

The name of the subroutine called by the run-time system (RTS) when it executes a C program. The RTS passes the program's command-line arguments to main as a count and an array of pointers to strings. If the main subroutine returns then the program exits.
Java has inheritted the name "main" from C but in Java it's more complicated of course. The main routine must have a signature of exactly
public static void main(String [])
And it must be inside a public class with the same name as the source file where it is defined.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with main, also see eye to the main chance; in the main; might and main.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Above, within the main bulk of the pyramid, the second tunnel system leads up
  to a series of funerary vaults.
The system has a set of main components and one master: time.
The main problem with the job market is the lack of hiring by private employers.
The main campus is located in a quiet residential neighborhood.
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