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See also: main-mast


Alternative forms[edit]


From main +‎ mast.



mainmast (plural mainmasts)

  1. (nautical) The chief, and tallest mast of a sailing ship that has more than one mast.
    • c. 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act III, Scene 3,[1]
      O, the most piteous cry of the poor souls! sometimes to see ’em, and not to see ’em; now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast, and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you’ld thrust a cork into a hogshead.
    • 1726, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, London: Benj. Motte, Part 2, Chapter 3, p. 58,[2]
      Then turning to his first Minister, who waited behind him with a white Staff near as tall as the Main-mast of the Royal Soveraign, he observed how contemptible a thing was human Grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive Insects as I []
    • 1789, Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Chapter 11,[3]
      When we were in the latitude of Martinico, and near making the land, one morning we had a brisk gale of wind, and, carrying too much sail, the main-mast went over the side.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 96,[4]
      The try-works are planted between the foremast and mainmast, the most roomy part of the deck.
    • 1928, Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography,
      [] skating farther than their wont that day they reached that part of the river where the ships had anchored and been frozen in midstream. Among them was the ship of the Muscovite Embassy flying its double-headed black eagle from the main mast, which was hung with many-coloured icicles several yards in length.

Usage notes[edit]

  • On a ship with three or more masts, it is the second mast from the bow.

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]