• WordNet 3.6
    • n mainmast the chief mast of a sailing vessel with two or more masts
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Mainmast (Naut) The principal mast in a ship or other vessel.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n mainmast Nautical, the principal mast in a ship or other vessel. In three-masted vessels it is the middle mast; in a vessel carrying two masts it is the one toward the stern, except in the yawl, galiot, and ketch, where it is the mast toward the prow; in four-masted ships it is the second mast from the bow.
    • n mainmast plural The lower topmast and topgallantmasts of the mast next abaft the foremast.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • ns Mainmast the principal mast of a ship, second from the prow
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. maine or magne, great—L. magnus, great.


In literature:

Behind the mainmast several shells struck home.
"The Story of the Great War, Volume V (of 12)"
I don't like to blow on a fellow, but I'm tempted to send you to the mainmast.
"Down the Rhine" by Oliver Optic
They sprang to the mainmast.
"The Voyages of the Ranger and Crusader" by W.H.G. Kingston
This move brought him into a safe place between the mainmast and the mizzen.
"Blow The Man Down" by Holman Day
Adair, do you go to the mizen-mast; Rogers, take the mainmast; and Murray, the foremast.
"The Three Midshipmen" by W.H.G. Kingston
Fortunately there was no wound; and after a while the boatswain was able to sit up unassisted, with his back against the stump of the mainmast.
"Turned Adrift" by Harry Collingwood
While they watched, their foremast burst into flames, and while they were rigging their hose the mainmast caught fire.
"The Wreck of the Titan" by Morgan Robertson
She has been stripped, during the last two days, of sails, rigging, and all spars but the mainmast.
"From a Cornish Window" by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
Next morn, as the sun rose over the bay, Still floated our flag at the mainmast-head.
"Tales of a Wayside Inn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Near the mainmast stands the first mate, a lighted lantern in his hand; Davis beside him, with auger, mallet, and chisel.
"The Flag of Distress" by Mayne Reid
I stood by during the investigation at the mainmast.
"Dikes and Ditches" by Oliver Optic
The upper deck, abaft the mainmast, was reserved for use of the passengers and officers of a packet.
"The Pioneer Steamship Savannah: A Study for a Scale Model" by Howard I. Chapelle
The first novelty that attracted their attention was the large map which was suspended on a frame rigged against the mainmast.
"Asiatic Breezes" by Oliver Optic
Behind the mainmast several shells struck home; we saw the high flame.
"World's War Events, Vol. I" by Various
There were two doors opening into the cuddy, one on each side of the mainmast, with a slide over each.
"Seek and Find" by Oliver Optic
I walked aft until I reached the mainmast.
"Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Two masts were soon shot away, and the mainmast fell with a fearful crash upon the deck.
"Harper's Young People, November 4, 1879" by Various
He stopped at the main-shrouds again, the axe descended and the mainmast went over the side.
"A Chapter of Adventures" by G. A. Henty
The leak in the Richard's hold grew steadily worse, and the mainmast of the Serapis was about to go by the board.
"Paul Jones" by Hutchins Hapgood
The mainmast was gone, all but a stump, and the moulderin' tackle lay on the deck all of a heap.
"Harper's Young People, April 13, 1880" by Various

In poetry:

And she gaed down, and farther down,
Her love's ship for to see,
And the topmast and the mainmast
Shone like the silver free.
"Fair Annie" by Andrew Lang
And she's gane down, and farther down,
The bride's ship to behold,
And the topmast and the mainmast
They shone just like the gold.
"Fair Annie" by Andrew Lang
"And lo! beside that mainmast tree
Two tall and shining forms I see,
And they are what we ought to be,
Yet we are they, and they are we."
"The Ballad of Iskander" by James Elroy Flecker
But Aflatun and Aristu,
Who had no work that they could do,
Gazed at the stranger Ship and Sea
With their beards around the mainmast tree.
"The Ballad of Iskander" by James Elroy Flecker
And Aflatun and Aristu
Let their Beards grow, and their Beards grew
Round and about the mainmast tree
Where they stood still, and watched the sea.
"The Ballad of Iskander" by James Elroy Flecker
And when the vessel struck, the crew stood aghast,
But they resolved to hew down the mainmast,
Which the spectators watched with eager interest,
And to make it fall on the rocks the brave sailors tried their best.
"The Wreck of the Whaler 'Oscar'" by William Topaz McGonagall