A mainstay is something that acts as a source of support for a community. If your hometown's economy depends on tourists visiting every summer, you could say that tourism is the mainstay of your town.

A mainstay holds everything together, whether it's your grandmother who acts as the anchor of your whole crazy family, a pillar that physically keeps a building from falling down, or the job that enables you to pay your rent every month. The noun mainstay is originally a nautical term meaning the rope that stabilizes two masts on a sailboat, and since the 1780s it's been used to mean "chief support."

Definitions of mainstay
  1. noun
    a prominent supporter
    synonyms: pillar
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    type of:
    admirer, booster, champion, friend, protagonist, supporter
    a person who backs a politician or a team etc.
  2. noun
    a central cohesive source of support and stability
    synonyms: anchor, backbone, keystone, linchpin, lynchpin
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    type of:
    something providing immaterial assistance to a person or cause or interest
  3. noun
    the forestay that braces the mainmast
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    type of:
    an adjustable stay from the foremast to the deck or bowsprit; controls the bending of the mast
Word Family