Might and main


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Might and main'?

With might and main is ‘with all of one’s strength’.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Might and main'?

Main has been known as meaning ‘powerful, possessing physical force’ since at least the 12th century. That usage of the word is now virtually lost – apart from as part of might and main. Like chop and change and hard and fast, the phrase is rather tautological as might means near enough the same as main.

There are examples of the use of the phrase, sometimes in the form main and might, in Old English from the late 13th century.

Trend of might and main in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.