mainspring main"spring`, n. The principal or most important spring in a piece of mechanism, especially the moving spring of a watch or clock or the spring in a gunlock which impels the hammer. Hence: (Fig.) The chief or most powerful motive; the efficient cause of action; as, the mainspring of action. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • mainspring — index cause (reason), derivation, reason (basis) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • mainspring — (n.) 1590s, of watches, clocks, etc., from MAIN (Cf. main) (adj.) + SPRING (Cf. spring) (n.3). Figurative use from 1690s …   Etymology dictionary

  • mainspring — ► NOUN 1) the principal spring in a watch, clock, etc. 2) a prime source of motivation or support …   English terms dictionary

  • mainspring — [mān′spriŋ΄] n. 1. the principal spring in a clock, watch, or other mechanism; driving spring, whose steady uncoiling keeps the mechanism running 2. the chief motive or cause …   English World dictionary

  • Mainspring — For the 2007 novel by Jay Lake, see Mainspring (novel). An uncoiled modern watch mainspring …   Wikipedia

  • mainspring — main|spring [ˈmeınsprıŋ] n 1.) the mainspring of sth the most important reason or influence that makes something happen ▪ Christian faith was the mainspring of Peter s life. ▪ Small companies are the mainspring of the British economy. 2.) the… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • mainspring — [[t]me͟ɪnsprɪŋ[/t]] mainsprings N COUNT: usu sing, usu the N of n If you say that an idea, emotion, or other factor is the mainspring of something, you mean that it is the most important reason or motive for that thing. [WRITTEN] My life has been …   English dictionary

  • mainspring — noun (C) 1 the mainspring of/for the most important reason or influence that makes something happen: Romantic love had been the mainspring of Augustini s poetry 2 the most important spring in a watch or clock …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • mainspring — UK [ˈmeɪnˌsprɪŋ] / US noun [countable] Word forms mainspring : singular mainspring plural mainsprings formal the most important cause or reason why something happens …   English dictionary

  • mainspring — noun a) The principal spring of a clockwork mechanism, that drives it by uncoiling. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by break their mainsprings and pass away. b) The most… …   Wiktionary

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