Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A chief support: Agriculture is a mainstay of the economy.
  • n. Nautical A strong rope that serves to steady and support the mainmast of a sailing vessel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A chief support.
  • n. A stabilising rope from the top of the mainmast to the bottom of the foremast.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The stay extending from the foot of the foremast to the maintop.
  • n. Main support; principal dependence.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The rope which secures the head of the mainmast of a vessel forward.
  • n. 2. Chief support; main dependence: as, their mainstay is fishing.
  • n. plural All the stays which give support to the main lower mast, maintopmast, and maintopgallantmast.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a prominent supporter
  • n. a central cohesive source of support and stability
  • n. the forestay that braces the mainmast

Etymologies

From main +‎ stay (“rope”). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The lot more includes her jewellery and interior designing business, which she calls her mainstay profession. “I have quite a few theme projects coming up on the interior designing front.

    The Times of India

  • The mainstay is just making sure people don't die of dehydration.

    Rebuilding Haiti, Better Than Before

  • If we are not able to do our study and use the commentaries for correction afterward, if our mainstay is not the word of God but the words of anybody else, we are still derivative teachers. from → Articles

    Ad Fontes, a Mystical and Protestant View of Teaching « Unknowing

  • My jobs mainstay is visiting hunters and I've watched these guys/gals spend thoudands of dollars so I see increased licenses fees, hotel/motel taxes and maybe even an October through December fuel tax as a way to fund a state sponsored program.

    Pheasant Numbers

  • (Senate Historian Richard Baker, Defense Correspondent Tony Capaccio, Sen. Sam Nunn, assorted biologists, engineers, and international journalists) These people may or may not have opinions, but their mainstay is fact-based explanations of their specialties for the intelligent layman.

    Archive 2005-10-01

  • Okay, so those of you who've been reading this site for a while now understand that while I often post indie rock or some weird, slightly experimental jazzy something or other, my mainstay is Techno music in all its glorious forms.

    Music (For Robots): October 2005 Archives

  • The bullpen mainstay is Troy Percival, who converted 39 of 42 save opportunities.

    USATODAY.com - 13 (tie). Chicago White Sox

  • Guyana and West Indies middle order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul is often described as the mainstay of the regional side.

    CaribbeanCricket.com

  • Copper is not the long-term mainstay of the Zambian economy, "the Bank's representative Ohene Nyanin said in an earlier interview in Lusaka.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • The mainstay was the 115-horsepower 258 cubic-inch inline six-cylinder engine that finally ended its decades-long production run when the old Wrangler ended production in 2006 and was replaced by a more modern V6 engine.

    Jeep CJ-7

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