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From Middle English mayntenen, from Old French maintenir, from Late Latin manūteneō, manūtenēre (I support), from Latin manū (with the hand) + teneō (I hold).


  • IPA(key): /meɪnˈteɪn/, /mənˈteɪn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪn


maintain (third-person singular simple present maintains, present participle maintaining, simple past and past participle maintained)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To support (someone), to back up or assist (someone) in an action. [14th-19thc.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “j”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XV (in Middle English):
      And thenne he asked leue & wente oute of his heremytage for to mayntene his neuewe ageynst the myghty Erle / and so hit happed that this man that lyeth here dede dyd so moche by his wysedome and hardynes that the Erle was take and thre of his lordes by force of this dede man
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
  2. To keep up; to preserve; to uphold (a state, condition etc.). [from 14thc.]
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 17, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      This time was most dreadful for Lilian. Thrown on her own resources and almost penniless, she maintained herself and paid the rent of a wretched room near the hospital by working as a charwoman, sempstress, anything. In a moment she had dropped to the level of a casual labourer.
    • 2011 November 5, Phil Dawkes, “QPR 2-3 Man City”, in BBC Sport:
      Mancini's men were far from their best but dug in to earn a 10th win in 11 league games and an eighth successive victory in all competitions to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the table.
    • 2013 March 1, Nancy Langston, “Mining the Boreal North”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 2, page 98:
      Reindeer are well suited to the taiga’s frigid winters. They can maintain a thermogradient between body core and the environment of up to 100 degrees, in part because of insulation provided by their fur, and in part because of counter-current vascular heat exchange systems in their legs and nasal passages.
  3. To declare or affirm (a clause) to be true; to assert. [from 15thc.]
    • 1962 December, “A new Pullman era?”, in Modern Railways, page 362:
      Pullman traditionalists will no doubt maintain that the full-service-at-every-seat principle is popular with their clientele; [...].
    • 2012 April 19, Josh Halliday, “Free speech haven or lawless cesspool – can the internet be civilised?”, in the Guardian:
      She maintains that the internet should face similar curbs to TV because young people are increasingly living online. "It's totally different, someone at Google watching the video from the comfort of their office in San Francisco to someone from a council house in London, where this video is happening right outside their front door."


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