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[meyn-spring] /ˈmeɪnˌsprɪŋ/

the principal in a mechanism, as in a watch.
the chief motive power; the impelling cause.
the principal power spring of a mechanism, esp in a watch or clock
the chief cause or motive of something

1590s, of watches, clocks, etc., from main (adj.) + spring (n.3). Figurative use from 1690s.


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