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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
First recorded in 1475-85; main1 + mast1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mainmast
Historical Examples
  • Anything belonging to the mainmast should be distinguished by the prefix main.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
  • He snatched a cross-bow from the rack about the mainmast, fitted a shaft to it and took aim.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • They crowded to the bulwarks of the waist-deck and swarmed upon the rat-lines of the mainmast.

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

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • All at once, by the mainmast, somebody catches him by the arm.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • If you should want me for anything, hoist some kind of flag on the mainmast.

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

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
  • “Is it a ship,” inquired the captain, as he began hastily to ascend the mainmast.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • There were no sails, and the mainmast had one yard-arm, the rest had none.

  • What flags are these that dumbly droop from the gaff o' the mainmast tall?

    Golden Stars

    Henry Van Dyke
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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