mid-13c., "to practice habitually," from Anglo-French meintenir (Old French maintenir, 12c.) "keep (a wife), sustain; persevere in, practice continually," from Latin manu tenere "hold in the hand," from manu, ablative of manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand") + tenere "to hold," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." Meaning "to carry on, keep up" is from mid-14c.; that of "to keep oneself, to support" is from late 14c. Sense of "to defend in speech" is from mid-14c. Related: Maintained; maintaining; maintains.
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