Meaning of GREAT in English


I. great 1 S1 W1 /ɡreɪt/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative greater , superlative greatest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ greatness , ↑ great ; adverb : ↑ greatly ; adjective : ↑ great ]

[ Language: Old English ]

1 . LARGE [usually before noun] very large in amount or degree:

The movie was a great success.

The news came as possibly the greatest shock of my life.

The paintings cost a great deal (=a lot) of money.

John always takes great care over his work.

It gives me great pleasure (=I am very pleased) to introduce tonight’s speaker.

It’s a great pity that none of his poems survive.

The temptation was too great to resist.

2 . EXCELLENT especially spoken

very good SYN wonderful , fantastic :

The weather here is great.

It’s great to be home.

a great day out for all the family

sound/taste/smell/feel etc great

I worked out this morning and I feel great.

You look great in that dress.

great for doing something

Email’s great for keeping in touch.

the great thing about somebody/something (=the very good thing about someone or something)

The great thing about Alex is that he’s always willing to explain things to you.


a) [usually before noun] important or having a lot of influence:

one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time

What makes a novel truly great?

great historical events

b) used in the title of a person or event that was very important in the past

Peter/Catherine etc the Great

I’m reading a biography of Alexander the Great.

the Great Depression

the Great War old-fashioned (=World War I)

4 . GENEROUS very good or generous in a way that people admire:

a great humanitarian gesture

5 . EXTREMELY SKILFUL famous for being able to do something extremely well:

Ali was undoubtedly one of the greatest boxers of all time.

a book about the lives of the great composers

6 . BIG written very big SYN huge :

A great crowd had gathered.

A great iron stove filled half the room.

7 . great big spoken very big:

Get your great big feet off my table!

8 . DOING SOMETHING A LOT used to emphasize that someone does something a lot

a great talker/reader/admirer etc

Anthony’s a great talker – sometimes you just can’t get a word in.

Len was a great believer in the power of positive thinking.

be a great one for doing something

She’s a great one for telling stories about her schooldays.

9 . to a greater or lesser extent used to emphasize that something is always true, even though it is more true or noticeable in some situations than others:

Most companies operate in conditions that are to a greater or lesser extent competitive.

10 . be no great shakes informal to not be very good, interesting, or skilful:

The work’s no great shakes, but at least I’m earning.

11 . be going great guns informal to be doing something extremely well:

After a slow start, the Tigers are going great guns.

12 . BAD spoken informal used when you are disappointed or annoyed about something:

‘Daniel’s cancelled the party.’ ‘Oh great!’

13 . ANIMAL/BIRD/PLANT ETC used in the names of some animals or plants, especially when they are bigger than other animals or plants of the same type:

the Great Crested Grebe

14 . the great outdoors informal the countryside, considered as enjoyable and healthy:

He had a taste for adventure and the great outdoors.

15 . great minds (think alike) spoken used humorously when you and another person have had the same idea

16 . the greater good a general advantage that you can only gain by losing or harming something that is considered less important:

Some wars are fought for the greater good.

17 . the great apes the different types of animals that are similar to large monkeys, considered as a group:

Alone of the great apes, the gorilla is not very efficient at using tools.

18 . the great divide a situation in which there is a big difference between groups in society, areas of a country etc, for example a big difference between their wealth or attitudes:

The great divide between north and south seems to be as unbridgeable as ever.

19 . Greater London/Los Angeles/Manchester etc London, Los Angeles etc and its outer areas

20 . huge/enormous great British English spoken used to emphasize how big something is

21 . great Scott!/great Heavens! spoken old-fashioned used to express shock or surprise

22 . great with child literary very soon to have a baby

—greatness noun [uncountable] :

She was destined for greatness.

II. great 2 BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ greatness , ↑ great ; adverb : ↑ greatly ; adjective : ↑ great ]

1 . [countable usually plural] a very successful and famous person in a particular sport, profession etc:

Jack Nicklaus is one of golf’s all-time greats.

I think his show’s OK, but I wouldn’t call him one of the greats.

2 . the great and the good people who are considered important – used humorously

• • •


■ a very famous person

▪ superstar an extremely famous performer, especially a musician or film actor:

The film made Tom Cruise an international superstar.

▪ legend someone who is famous and admired for being extremely good at doing something – used especially about people who are at the end of a long career or who have died:

blues legend John Lee Hooker


Jane Fonda is the daughter of film legend Henry Fonda.

▪ great [usually plural] someone who was one of the best players or performers that there have ever been:

He was one of the all-time soccer greats.

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