Nearby words

  1. mailsack,
  2. mailshot,
  3. maim,
  4. maiman,
  5. maimonides,
  6. main body,
  7. main brace,
  8. main chance,
  9. main clause,
  10. main course


    in the main, for the most part; chiefly: In the main, the novel was dull reading.

Origin of main

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in the 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)


/ (meɪn) /

adjective (prenominal)


Word Origin for main

C13: from Old English mægen strength


/ (meɪn) /


a throw of the dice in dice games
a cockfighting contest
a match in archery, boxing, etc

Word Origin for main

C16: of unknown origin

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

Word Origin and History for in the main
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with in the main

in the main

For the most part, chiefly, as in It was an excellent conference in the main. [First half of 1600s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with main

  • main drag
  • main squeeze

also see:

  • eye to the main chance
  • in the main
  • might and main
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.