1. integration of children with special educational problems, as a physical handicap, into conventional classes and school activities.

Origin of mainstreaming

First recorded in 1975–80; mainstream + -ing1


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

Origin of mainstream

First recorded in 1660–70; main1 + stream Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mainstreaming

Contemporary Examples of mainstreaming

Historical Examples of mainstreaming

British Dictionary definitions for mainstreaming


    1. the main current (of a river, cultural trend, etc)in the mainstream of modern literature
    2. (as modifier)mainstream politics
  1. of or relating to the style of jazz that lies between the traditional and the modern
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 mainstreaming



also main-stream, main stream, "principal current of a river," 1660s, from main (adj.) + stream (n.); hence, "prevailing direction in opinion, popular taste, etc.," a figurative use first attested in Carlyle (1831). Mainstream media attested by 1980 in language of U.S. leftists critical of coverage of national affairs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mainstreaming in Medicine


  1. The process of integrating physically or intellectually disadvantaged students into regular school classes.
Related formsmainstream′ v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

mainstreaming in Culture


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

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.