Meaning of BIG in English


I. big 1 S1 W1 /bɪɡ/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative bigger , superlative biggest )

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Origin: Probably from a Scandinavian language ]

1 . SIZE of more than average size or amount:

a big house

I need a bigger desk.

She had a big grin on her face.

a big increase in crime

Los Angeles is the biggest city in California.

The garage isn’t big enough for two cars.

When they lose, they lose in a big way (=to a large degree) .

There was this great big (=extremely big) spider in the sink.

2 . IMPORTANT important and serious:

a big decision

Buying your own house is a big commitment.

The big game is on Friday.

There’s a big difference between understanding something and being able to explain it to others.

Everyone was getting ready for the big day (=a day when an important event will happen) .

3 . POPULAR/SUCCESSFUL successful or popular, especially in business or entertainment:

Julia Roberts became a big star.

She’s very big in Australia.

After years as a small-time actor, he suddenly made it big (=became very successful) in Hollywood.

the big boys (=the most powerful people or companies) ⇨ ↑ big cheese , ↑ big noise , ⇨ big shot at ↑ shot 1 (14), ⇨ ↑ big time


a) big sister/brother your older sister or brother

b) older or more like an adult – used especially by children or when you are talking to children:

Come on, don’t cry. You’re a big girl now.

5 . LARGE DEGREE [only before noun] informal

a) doing something to a large degree

a big eater/drinker/spender etc

Des is a big gambler, you know.

be a big fan/admirer of somebody/something

b) done to a large degree or with great energy

give somebody a big hug/kiss

Mama gave me a big hug.

give somebody a big hand (=clap loudly)

6 . BAD [only before noun] informal used to emphasize how bad something is:

AIDS remains a big problem in many parts of the world.

Buying that house was a big mistake.

I never said that, you big liar!

7 . have big ideas/plans to have impressive plans for the future:

I’ve got big plans for this place.

8 . be big on something spoken

a) to like something very much:

I’m not big on kids.

b) to have a lot of a quality or feature:

The new BMW is big on safety features.

9 . what’s the big idea? spoken used when someone has done something annoying, especially when you want them to explain why they did it:

Hey, what’s the big idea? Who said you could use my computer?

10 . GENEROUS it is big of somebody to do something spoken

a) used to say that someone is very kind or generous to do something

b) used when you really think that someone is not kind or helpful at all:

£5! That was big of her!

11 . big mouth spoken someone who has a big mouth cannot be trusted to keep things secret:

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth.

me and my big mouth (=said when you wish you had not told someone a secret) ⇨ ↑ bigmouth

12 . LETTERS informal big letters are ↑ capital s , for example G, R, A etc

13 . WORDS informal big words are long or unusual and are difficult to read or understand

14 . be/get too big for your boots informal to be too proud of yourself

15 . use/wield the big stick informal to threaten to use your power to get what you want

16 . a big girl’s blouse British English informal someone, especially a man, who is not brave

17 . big up (to/for) somebody spoken informal used when you want to praise someone:

Big up to Kelly Holmes! She ran a superb race.

⇨ think big at ↑ think 1 (39)

• • •


▪ big :

a big city


a big guy


a big mistake


Lack of funding is the biggest problem.


Getting a car has made a big difference to my life.

▪ large a slightly more formal word than big , used to describe objects and amounts:

a large bowl


Large areas of the forest have been destroyed.


The museum attracts a large number of visitors.

▪ major [only before noun] big and important:

Pollution is a major problem.


There has been a major change in government policy.

▪ considerable/substantial quite big – used especially about amounts:

They have spent a considerable amount of money on the project.


A substantial amount of heat is lost through the windows.


He had a considerable influence on young musicians.

■ very big

▪ huge/massive/enormous extremely big:

The table was enormous.


a huge explosion


Their house is huge.


There is a huge amount of work to be done.


There has been a massive increase in oil prices.


The company is massive, operating in 150 countries.


A massive fire destroyed more than thirty homes.


He’s been under an enormous amount of stress recently.


The changes will have an enormous impact.

▪ great [only before noun] very big – used especially to describe the level or number of something:

He achieved great success in America.


The college offers a great number of courses.


a great advantage

▪ vast extremely big – used about areas, distances, numbers, or amounts:

vast areas of rainforest


A vast number of tourists visit the island every year.

▪ gigantic extremely big and much bigger than other things of the same type:

Gigantic waves crashed onto the beach.

▪ colossal extremely big – used about amounts or objects:

James ran up a colossal phone bill.


a colossal statue of Napoleon

▪ tremendous having an extremely big effect:

There have been some tremendous changes.


My new job will be a tremendous challenge.


The children were making a tremendous amount of noise.

II. big 2 BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle bigged , present participle bigging )

big somebody/something ↔ up phrasal verb British English spoken informal

1 . to say that someone or something is very good, especially in public:

He’s always on TV bigging up his new band.

2 . big it up to spend a lot of money and enjoy yourself in a social situation, in a way that other people will notice

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.