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Etymology 1[edit]

From a- (prefix with the sense ‘at; in; on; with’, used to show a state, condition, or manner) +‎ main (force, power, strength).[1] Main is derived from Middle English mayn (strength), from Old English mæġen (strength),[2] from Proto-Germanic *maginą (might, power, strength), *maginaz (strong), from Proto-Indo-European *megʰ- (to be able).


amain (comparative more amain, superlative most amain)

  1. (archaic, literary) With all of one's might; mightily; forcefully, violently. [from 16th c.]
  2. (archaic) At full speed; also, in great haste. [from 16th c.]
  3. (Britain, dialectal) Out of control.
    • 1820s (date written), Anthony Errington, “Saving Men on the Waggonway”, in P. E. H. Hair, editor, Coals on Rails: Or The Reason of My Wrighting: The Autobiography of Anthony Errington, a Tyneside Colliery Waggon and Waggonway Wright, from His Birth in 1778 to around 1825 (Liverpool Historical Studies; no. 3), Liverpool: [] [F]or the Department of History, University of Liverpool [by] Liverpool University Press, published 1988, →ISBN, page 38:
      The waggonway lay near the Windmill Hills and went down the north side of the hills to the Rivir Tine, and at the Coal steath [= staithe] Mathew Gray lived. I was about hauf way down the bank when thur was two Waggons Coming after me Amain [= broken loose and running away].
  4. (obsolete) Exceedingly; overmuch.
Alternative forms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from Spanish amainar (to reef a sail (take in part of a sail to adapt its size to the force of the wind); to abate, die down, subside; to ease off, let up; of a person: to calm down, control one’s anger); further etymology uncertain, probably from a regional Italian (Naples) word (compare Italian ammainare (to lower or reef (a flag, sail, etc.))), from Vulgar Latin *invagīnare (to sheathe (a sword); to put away, stow), from Latin in- (prefix meaning ‘in, inside, within’) + vāgīna (scabbard, sheath; covering, holder; vagina) (possibly ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *wag- (cover; sheath)).[3]


amain (third-person singular simple present amains, present participle amaining, simple past and past participle amained) (obsolete)

  1. (transitive)
    1. (nautical) To lower (the sail of a ship, particularly the topsail).
    2. (figuratively) To decrease or reduce (something).
  2. (intransitive, nautical) To lower the topsail in token of surrender; to yield.


  1. ^ amain, adv.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021.
  2. ^ main, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 3 June 2018.
  3. ^ † amain, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021.

Further reading[edit]




Borrowed from Old Norse almanna (for everyone).


amain m

  1. (Jersey) of easy use



  • Hyphenation: a‧ma‧in
  • IPA(key): /ʔamaˈʔin/, [ʔɐ.mɐˈʔin]



  1. uncle
    Synonyms: tito, tiyo, tiyong, tiyuhin, amba, (slang) tsong
  2. stepfather
    Synonyms: amang-panguman, padrastro, tiyuhin, tiyo, tiyong

Coordinate terms[edit]



From Middle English amen, from Latin āmēn.



  1. amen


  • Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 22