Meaning of HIGH in English

I. high 1 S1 W1 /haɪ/ BrE AmE adjective ( comparative higher , superlative highest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ Highness , ↑ high ; adverb : ↑ high , ↑ highly ; adjective : ↑ high ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: heah ]

1 . FROM BOTTOM TO TOP measuring a long distance from the bottom to the top OPP low :

This is the highest mountain in Japan.

The camp was surrounded by a high fence.

100 feet/30 metres etc high

waves up to 40 metres high

a ten-foot high statue

How high is the Eiffel Tower?

chest/waist/knee etc high (=as high as your chest etc)

The grass was knee-high.

► Do not use high to describe people, animals, trees, and plants. Use tall : You’re getting very tall (NOT You’re getting very high). | a tall palm tree (NOT a high palm tree)

2 . ABOVE GROUND in a position that is a long way, or a longer way than usual, above the ground, floor etc OPP low :

The apartment had spacious rooms with high ceilings.

a high shelf

high altitudes

The sun was already high in the sky.

High up among the clouds, we saw the summit of Everest.

3 . LARGE NUMBER a high amount, number, or level is large, or larger than usual OPP low :

Temperatures remained high for the rest of the week.

Lower-paid workers often cannot afford the high cost of living in the capital.

high level/degree/rate etc (of something)

High levels of car use mean our streets are more congested than ever.

high crime rates

high interest rates

high price/charge/tax etc

If you want better public services, you’ll have to pay higher taxes – it’s as simple as that.

The train was approaching at high speed.

high proportion/percentage etc (of something) (=a very large part of a number)

A high proportion of women with children under five work full-time.

4 . GOOD STANDARD a high standard, quality etc is very good OPP low :

a high performance computer

high quality

a range of high quality goods at low prices

Our aim is to provide the highest quality service to all our customers.

high standard (=very good levels of work, achievement, behaviour etc)

The general standard of the entries was very high.

Our guests expect us to maintain high standards.

5 . CONTAINING A LOT containing a lot of a particular substance or quality OPP low

high in something

Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in calories.

a high sugar/salt/fibre etc content

Red meat tends to have a high fat content.

6 . RANK/POSITION having an important position in society or within an organization OPP low :

a high rank in the US Navy

the City’s highest honour

high up (=in a powerful position)

someone high up in the CIA

high office (=an important position)

Both of them held high office in the Anglican Church.

high society (=rich people of the highest social class) ⇨ ↑ high-class , ↑ high-ranking , ↑ high-up , ⇨ friends in high places at ↑ friend (11)

7 . ADVANCED [only before noun] advanced and often complicated:

We can offer all the benefits of the latest high technology.

the world of high finance

the higher animals/mammals/organisms etc (=animals etc that are more intelligent or advanced than others)

8 . high opinion/regard/praise etc strong approval of someone or something, or an expression of strong approval:

I’ve always had a high opinion of her work.

hold somebody/something in high esteem/regard (=respect them very much)

As an educationalist, he was held in very high esteem.

Romsey earned high praise from his boss.

9 . high priority ( also high on the list/agenda ) important and needing to be done or dealt with quickly:

Most people feel that education needs to be given higher priority.

Arms control is high on the agenda.

10 . high hopes/expectations when someone hopes or expects that something will be very good or successful:

My expectations of the place were never very high, but I didn’t think it would be this bad.

have high hopes/expectations

Like many young actors, I had high hopes when I first started out.

11 . SOUND near or above the top of the range of sounds that humans can hear OPP low :

I always had difficulty reaching the high notes (=when singing) .

a high squeaky voice

⇨ ↑ high-pitched

12 . high point ( also high spot ) British English an especially good part of an activity or event:

The visit to the ancient capital city was one of the high points of the tour.

13 . high ground

a) an area of land that is higher than the area surrounding it:

Villagers herded the livestock to high ground to keep them safe during the floods.

b) a better, more moral, or more powerful position in an argument or competition:

Neither side in this conflict can claim the moral high ground.

14 . high spirits feelings of happiness and energy, especially when you are having fun:

It was a bright sunny day and we set off in high spirits.

I don’t think they intended any harm – it was just high spirits.

15 . HAPPY/EXCITED [not before noun] happy and excited:

I was still high from the applause.

16 . DRUGS [not before noun] behaving in a strange and excited way as the result of taking drugs

high on

Most people there were high on cocaine.

get high (=take a drug to make yourself high)

Steve was as high as a kite (=strongly affected by drugs or alcohol) .

17 . SEA/RIVER having risen to a high level OPP low :

The river is at its highest in spring.

⇨ ↑ high tide

18 . it is high time somebody did something used to say that something should be done now:

It’s high time you got a job.

19 . TIME the middle or the most important part of a particular period of time:

high summer

high noon (=12 o'clock in the middle of the day) ⇨ ↑ high season

20 . high wind a strong wind

21 . high alert a situation in which people are told to be ready because there is a strong possibility of an attack or of something dangerous happening

put/place somebody on high alert

Troops were put on high alert.

22 . high life/living the enjoyable life that rich and fashionable people have:

We’re all stuck here, while he’s off living the high life in New York.

23 . high drama/adventure very exciting events or situations:

a life with moments of high drama

24 . end/finish/begin etc (something) on a high note to end, finish something etc in a successful way:

The team finished their tour on a high note in Barbados.

25 . high principles/ideals ideas about personal behaviour based on the belief that people should always behave in an honest and morally good way:

a man of high moral principles

26 . high and mighty talking or behaving as if you think you are better or more important than other people:

Don’t get high and mighty with me.

27 . be/get on your high horse to give your opinion about something in a way that shows you think you are definitely right and that other people are wrong:

If she’d get down off her high horse for a moment, she might realize there’s more than one point of view here.

28 . FOOD British English cheese, meat etc that is high is not fresh and has a strong smell or taste

29 . high days and holidays British English special occasions

30 . high complexion/colouring British English a naturally pink or red face

31 . in high dudgeon formal in an angry or offended way – often used humorously


a) high style/register British English a very formal style of language, especially used in literature

b) high German/Dutch etc a form of a language used for formal purposes that is often different from the ordinary form used by most people

⇨ ↑ highly , ⇨ stink to high heaven at ↑ stink 1 (1)

• • •


■ buildings/mountains etc

▪ high measuring a long distance from the bottom to the top – used about mountains, walls, and buildings:

the highest mountain in the world


The castle was surrounded by high walls.


a high cliff


The council told the architects the tower was too high.

▪ tall high – used about people, trees, plants, and buildings. Tall is used especially about things that are high and narrow:

tall marble columns


A cat was hiding in the tall grass.


a tall modern building

▪ majestic especially written very impressive because of being very big and tall – used about mountains, buildings, trees, and animals:

the majestic mountains of the Himalayas


The abbey is noted for its majestic arches, fine doorways and elegant windows.


The cathedral looked majestic in the evening light.

▪ soaring [only before noun] especially written used about a building or mountain that looks extremely tall and impressive:

a soaring skyscraper


the soaring towers of the palace

▪ towering [only before noun] especially written extremely high, in a way that seems impressive but also often rather frightening:

The sky was shut out by the towering walls of the prison.


towering trees

▪ lofty [usually before noun] literary very high and impressive – used in literature:

the lofty peaks in the far distance

▪ high-rise [usually before noun] a high-rise building is a tall modern building with a lot of floors containing apartments or offices:

a high-rise apartment block


He works in a high-rise office in New York.


▪ high mountain/building/wall/fence

▪ tall person/tree/plant/building/tower/statue

▪ majestic mountain/building/tree/animal

▪ soaring building/tower/mountain

▪ towering wall/tree/mountain/building

▪ lofty building/mountain/tree/heights

▪ high-rise building

■ sounds

▪ high-pitched higher than most sounds or voices:

He has a rather high-pitched voice.


Bats make high-pitched squeaks.


the high-pitched whine of a dentist's drill

▪ shrill high and unpleasant:

Her voice became more shrill.


The bird has rather a shrill cry.

▪ piercing extremely high and loud, in a way that is unpleasant:

a piercing scream


Suddenly I heard a piercing whistle.

▪ squeaky making very high noises that are not loud:

a squeaky gate


squeaky floorboards


a squeaky little voice

II. high 2 S3 BrE AmE adverb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ Highness , ↑ high ; adverb : ↑ high , ↑ highly ; adjective : ↑ high ]

1 . ABOVE THE GROUND at or to a level high above the ground, the floor etc OPP low :

He kicked the ball high into the air, over the heads of the crowd.

high above/into etc

Hotel Miramar is situated high above the bay.

A ski lift whisks you high into the mountains.

2 . VALUE/COST/AMOUNT at or to a high value, cost, amount etc OPP low :

If prices shoot up any higher, no one will be able to afford to live in the area.

Tom scored higher than anyone else in the class.

3 . SOUND with a high sound:

A strange cry rang high into the night.

4 . ACHIEVEMENT at or to a high rank or level of achievement, especially within a company OPP low :

It seems that the higher you rise, the less time you have to actually do your job.

My parents always encouraged me to aim high.

5 . (leave somebody/something) high and dry

a) if someone is left high and dry, they are left without any help or without the things that they need

b) if a boat, area etc is left high and dry, it is left on land because the water that surrounded it has gone down:

The once-thriving port of Rye was left high and dry as sea levels retreated.

6 . look/search high and low to try to find someone or something by looking everywhere:

We looked high and low for Sandy but couldn’t find her.

⇨ hold your head high at ↑ hold 1 (16), ⇨ live high on the hog at ↑ live 1 (26), ⇨ be riding high at ↑ ride 1 (6), ⇨ run high at ↑ run 1 (28)

III. high 3 BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ Highness , ↑ high ; adverb : ↑ high , ↑ highly ; adjective : ↑ high ]

1 . NUMBER/AMOUNT the highest price, number, temperature etc that has ever been recorded, or that has been recorded within a particular period of time:

Highs of 40°C were recorded in the region last summer.

a new/record/ten-year etc high

The price of oil reached a new high this week.

2 . EXCITEMENT informal a feeling of great happiness or excitement:

They’re bound to be on a high after such an incredible victory.

the emotional highs and lows of a new romance

3 . DRUGS a feeling of pleasure or excitement produced by some drugs

4 . WEATHER an area of high ↑ pressure that affects the weather

5 . SCHOOL a short form of ↑ high school , used in the name of a school:

Benjamin Franklin High

6 . from on high from someone in a position of authority – used humorously:

An order came from on high.

7 . on high formal

a) at a high temperature as measured by an electric ↑ oven etc:

Microwave on high for eight minutes.

b) formal in a high place or heaven:

An angel came from on high.

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