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[meyn-mast, -mahst; Nautical meyn-muh st] /ˈmeɪnˌmæst, -ˌmɑst; Nautical ˈmeɪn məst/
noun, Nautical
the second mast from forward in any ship having two or more masts, except for a yawl, ketch, or dandy.
the larger forward mast of a yawl, ketch, or dandy.
the sole mast of any of various ships, as sloops or cutters.
Origin of mainmast
1475-85; main1 + mast1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mainmast
Historical Examples
  • Boys,” cried the instructor in a louder key, pointing as he spoke, “you see the mainmast there?

    Young Tom Bowling J.C. Hutcheson
  • He snatched a cross-bow from the rack about the mainmast, fitted a shaft to it and took aim.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • Roger saw an Indian run up the shrouds by the mainmast and hitch a tackle.

  • They crowded to the bulwarks of the waist-deck and swarmed upon the rat-lines of the mainmast.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • About the mainmast were huddled the surviving Spaniards, weaponless and broken in courage, a herd of timid, bewildered sheep.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • He stepped to the mainmast, about which the powder kegs had been stacked.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • Almost immediately afterwards the mainmast followed, though the foremast still stood, enabling her to continue the action.

    The Rival Crusoes W.H.G. Kingston
  • If you should want me for anything, hoist some kind of flag on the mainmast.

  • The 'Pennsylvania' burned like a volcano for five hours and a half before her mainmast fell.

  • The Malays had left their stations and stood clustered by the mainmast in a silent group.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for mainmast


(nautical) the chief mast of a sailing vessel with two or more masts, being the foremast of a yawl, ketch, or dandy and the second mast from the bow of most others
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mainmast

16c., from main (adj.) + mast (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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