the principal or dominant course, tendency, or trend: the mainstream of American culture.
a river having tributaries.
regular school classes or regular schools: keeping autistic students in the mainstream.
belonging to or characteristic of a principal, dominant, or widely accepted group, movement, style, etc.: mainstream Republicans; a mainstream artist; mainstream media.
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of jazz falling historically between Dixieland and modern jazz; specifically, swing music. Compare traditional ( def 4 ).
verb (used with object)
to send into the mainstream; cause to join the main force, group, etc.: to mainstream young people into the labor force.
to place (students with disabilities) in regular school classes.
verb (used without object)
to join or be placed in the mainstream.

1660–70; main1 + stream Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mainstream (ˈmeɪnˌstriːm)
1.  a.  the main current (of a river, cultural trend, etc): in the mainstream of modern literature
 b.  (as modifier): mainstream politics
2.  of or relating to the style of jazz that lies between the traditional and the modern

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

"principal current of a river," 1667, from main (adj.) + stream, hence, "prevailing direction in opinion, popular taste, etc.," a fig. use first attested in Carlyle (1831).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

mainstream definition

The prevailing current or direction of a movement or influence: “The candidate's speech represented the mainstream thinking on economic policy.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
And over the past two years, the discussion about three-year programs has
  reached the mainstream press.
Mainstream macro has dozens of conflicting theories, all with their empirical
  evidence to support them.
The tsunami unleashed one month ago received saturation coverage in the
  mainstream media, of course.
Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream.
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