mainstay


noun

  1. Nautical. the stay that secures the mainmast forward.
  2. a person or thing that acts as a chief support or part: Coffee is the mainstay of the country’s economy.

noun

  1. nautical the forestay that braces the mainmast
  2. a chief support

n.“chief support,” 1787, figurative use of a nautical noun meaning “stay which extends from the main-top to the foot of the foremast” (late 15c.), from main (adj.) + stay (n.).

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