mainspring

[ meyn-spring ]
/ ˈmeɪnˌsprɪŋ /

noun

the principal spring in a mechanism, as in a watch.
the chief motive power; the impelling cause.

Nearby words

  1. mainmast,
  2. mainour,
  3. mains,
  4. mainsail,
  5. mainsheet,
  6. mainstay,
  7. mainstream,
  8. mainstream corporation tax,
  9. mainstreamer,
  10. mainstreaming

Origin of mainspring

First recorded in 1585–95; main1 + spring

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

Examples from the Web for mainspring


British Dictionary definitions for mainspring

mainspring

/ (ˈmeɪnˌsprɪŋ) /

noun

the principal power spring of a mechanism, esp in a watch or clock
the chief cause or motive of something
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 mainspring

mainspring

n.

1590s, of watches, clocks, etc., from main (adj.) + spring (n.3). Figurative use from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper