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From a- (prefix with the sense ‘at; in; on; with’, used to show a state, condition, または manner) + main (“force, power, strength”). Main is derived from Middle English mayn (“strength”), from 古期英語 mæġen (“strength”), from Proto-Germanic *maginą (“might, power, strength”), *maginaz (“strong”), from Proto-Indo-European *megʰ- (“to be able”).
- (archaic, literary) With all of one's might; mightily; forcefully, violently. [from 16th c.]
- 1567, Ovid, “The Fourteenth Booke”, in Arthur Golding, transl., The XV. Bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, Entytuled Metamorphosis, […], London: […] Willyam Seres […], OCLC 1085261494, folio 176, recto:
- 1611, Thomas Coryate [i.e., Thomas Coryat], “My Obseruations of the Most Glorious, Peerelesse, and Mayden Citie of Venice: […]”, in Coryats Crudities Hastily Gobled Vp in Five Moneths Trauells […], London: […] W[illiam] S[tansby for the author], OCLC 702319809:
- For they both ſay and beleeue that this picture hath ſo great vertue, as alſo that of Padua, whereof I haue before ſpoken, that whenſoeuer it is carried abroad in a ſolemne proceſſion in the time of a great drougth, it will cauſe raine to deſcend from heauen either before it is brought backe into the Church, or very ſhortly after. […] I cannot be induced to attribute ſo much to the vertue of a picture, as the Venetians do, except I had ſeene ſome notable miracle wrought by the ſame. For it brought no drops at all with it: onely about two dayes after it rained (I muſt needes confeſſe) amaine. But I hope they are not ſo ſuperſtitious to aſcribe that to the vertue of the picture.
- 1670, John Milton, “The Second Book”, in The History of Britain, that Part Especially now Call’d England. […] , London: […] J[ohn] M[acock] for James Allestry, […] , OCLC 946735472, page 75:
- 1671, John Milton, “Samson Agonistes, […]”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: […] J. M[acock] for John Starkey […], OCLC 228732398, lines 637–638, pages 42–43:
- 1678, John Bunyan, “The Author’s Apology for His Book”, in The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: […], London: […] Nath[aniel] Ponder […], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, […], 1928, OCLC 5190338:
- 1797, S[amuel] T[aylor] Coleridge, “Christabel. Part I.”, in Christabel: Kubla Khan, a Vision: The Pains of Sleep, London: Printed for John Murray, […], by William Bulmer and Co. […], published 1816, OCLC 1380031, page 8:
- 1799–1805 (dates written), William Wordsworth, “Book I. Introduction.—Childhood and School-time.”, in The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet’s Mind; an Autobiographical Poem, London: Edward Moxon, […], published 1850, OCLC 1128699601, pages 16–17:
- Oh! when I have hung / Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass / And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock / But ill sustained, and almost (so it seemed) / Suspended by the blast which blew amain, / Shouldering the naked crag, oh at that time, / While on the perilous ridge I hung alone, / With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind / Blow through my ears!
- 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “The Albatross”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 263:
- 1863, Jean Ingelow, “The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire. (1571.)”, in Poems, London: Longmans, Green, Reader, & Dyer, OCLC 680260605, page 167:
- (archaic) At full speed; also, in great haste. [from 16th c.]
- 1577, Raphaell Holinshed, “[The Historie of Scotlande.]”, in The Firste Volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande […], volume I, London: […] [Henry Bynneman] for Iohn Harrison, OCLC 55195564, page 189, column 1:
- 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i], page 14, column 2:
- 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: […], London: […] Nath[aniel] Ponder […], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, […], 1928, OCLC 5190338, page 44:
- (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:
- (obsolete) Exceedingly; overmuch.
- 1671, John Milton, “The Second Book”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: […] J. M[acock] for John Starkey […], OCLC 228732398, lines 429–431, pages 50–51:
- 1819, John Keats, “Lamia”, in Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, London: […] [Thomas Davison] for Taylor and Hessey, […], published 1820, OCLC 927360557, part II, page 36:
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”)).
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