- The definition of great is very much above the ordinary quality or size.
- An example of great is scoring 90 on a test.
- An example of great is the dimensions of an elephant.
- of much more than ordinary size, extent, volume, etc.; esp.,
- designating a thing or group of things larger than others of the same kind: the great cats are tigers, lions, etc.; the Great Lakes
- large in number, quantity, etc.; numerous: a great company
- long in duration: a great while
- much higher in some quality or degree; much above the ordinary or average; esp.,
- existing in a high degree; intense: a great light, great pain
- very much of a; acting much as (something specified): a great reader
- eminent; distinguished; illustrious; superior: a great playwright
- very impressive or imposing; remarkable: great ceremony
- having or showing nobility of mind, purpose, etc.; grand: a great man, great ideas
- of most importance; main; chief: the great seal
- Informal clever; expert; skillful: usually with at: great at tennis
- ☆ Informal excellent; splendid; fine
- Now Chiefly Dial. pregnantchiefly in great with child
Origin of greatMiddle English grete ; from Old English great, akin to German gross, Dutch groot ; from Indo-European base an unverified form ghrēu-, rub hard over, crumble from source grit, Welsh gro, sand: basic sense “coarse, coarsegrained”
Origin of great-; from great, taken as intensifier
- a. Very large in size, extent, or intensity: a great pile of rubble; a great storm.b. Of a larger size than other, similar forms: the great anteater.c. Large in quantity or number: A great throng awaited us. See Synonyms at large.d. Extensive in time or distance: a great delay; a great way off.
- a. Remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree, or extent: a great crisis; great anticipation.b. Of outstanding significance or importance: a great work of art.c. Chief or principal: the great house on the estate.d. Superior in quality or character; noble: a great man who dedicated himself to helping others.e. Powerful; influential: one of the great nations of the West.f. Eminent; distinguished: a great leader.
- Informal a. Very good; first-rate: We had a great time at the dance.b. Very skillful: She is great at algebra.c. Enthusiastic: a great lover of music.
- Being one generation removed from the relative specified. Often used in combination: a great-granddaughter.
- Archaic Pregnant.
- pl. greats or great One that is great: a composer considered among the greats.
- Music a. A division of most pipe organs, usually containing the most powerful ranks of pipes.b. A similar division of other organs.
- Very well: got along great with the teacher.
- Used as an intensive with certain adjectives: a great big kiss.
Origin of greatMiddle English grete, from Old English grēat, thick, coarse.
(comparative greater, superlative greatest)
- Very big, large scale.
- A great storm is approaching our shores.
- Very good.
- Dinner was great.
- Title referring to an important leader.
- Alexander the Great
- Superior; admirable; commanding; applied to thoughts, actions, and feelings.
- a great nature
- Endowed with extraordinary powers; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; strong; powerful; mighty; noble.
- a great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, etc.
- More than ordinary in degree; very considerable.
- to use great caution; to be in great pain
In simple situations, using modifiers of intensity such as fairly, somewhat, etc. can lead to an awkward construction, with the exception of certain common expressions such as “so great” and “really great”. In particular “very great” is unusually strong as a reaction, and in many cases “great” or its meaning of “very good” will suffice.
- A person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim.
- Newton and Einstein are two of the greats of the history of science.
- (typographically plural, grammatically singular proper noun) A course of academic study devoted to the works of such persons and also known as Literae Humaniores; the "Greats" name has official status with respect to Oxford University's program and is widely used as a colloquialism in reference to similar programs elsewhere.
- Spencer read Greats at Oxford, taking a starred first.
- (music) The main division in a pipe organ, usually the loudest division.
From Middle English greet (“great, large”), from Old English grēat (“big, thick, coarse, stour, massive”), from Proto-Germanic *grautaz (“big in size, coarse, coarse grained”), from Proto-Indo-European *ghrewə- (“to fell, put down, fall in”). Cognate with Scots great (“coarse in grain or texture, thick, great”), West Frisian grut (“large, great”), Dutch groot (“large, stour”), German groß (“large”), Old English grēot (“earth, sand, grit”), Latin grandis (“great,big”), Albanian ngre (“I lift, heave, stand, elevate”). More at grit.
- With familial designations, used to denote a removal of one generation
- great-uncle (an uncle of one's mother or father)
- great-grandfather (the father of one's grandfather)
- great-great-grandfather (a grandfather of one's grandfather)
- great-great-great-grandfather, etc.
- (informal) fourth-great-uncle, etc. (same as great-great-great-great-uncle
- (informal) fourth-great-grandfather, etc. (same as great-great-great-great-grandfather