Meaning of GREAT in English


I. ˈgrā]t, South often -re(ə)] or -rāə]; usu ]d.+V adjective

( -er/-est )

Etymology: Middle English grete, from Old English grēat coarse-grained, large, tall; akin to Old Frisian grāt large, Old Saxon grōt, Old High German grōz and probably to Old English grēot sand, grit — more at grit


a. : large in spatial dimension : of notable size : big

a boy of nine, great and heavy for his years — Arnold Bennett

had eaten great juicy steaks — Bruce Marshall

the great size of these figures — the largest man is 167 feet long and has an arm spread of 164 feet — American Guide Series: California

the best forests had been reduced to great stretches of stump land — American Guide Series: Minnesota

b. now dialect : pregnant

c. : of a kind characterized by relative largeness — used in plant and animal names

d. archaic : capital

great A

e. chiefly Scotland , of a stream or body of water : high , swollen

f. : elaborate , ample

a plan worked out in great detail


a. : large in number : numerous

a great multitude of warriors

a great company of men

the respect due his greater years

b. : predominant , overruling — used in such phrases as the great majority, the great body

the great bulk of the populace favors peace

written nearly a thousand letters about goats, the great majority in reply to people who have asked questions — Joan & Harry Shields

3. : considerable or remarkable in magnitude, power, intensity, degree, or effectiveness

great bloodshed

a great weariness

with great difficulty

the year of the great inflation — H.H.Martin

: loud

a great voice

a great uproar

: heavy , forceful

a great blow with the fist

: intense

a great pain shooting through the arm

: far-reaching : big in scope

when once the great plans for power transmission have been realized — Samuel Van Valkenburg & Ellsworth Huntington

: extreme , marked

showed great good taste

: very close

a great friend of mine

: markedly accomplished

a great lover


a. : full or charged especially with an emotion

great with anger

great with pride

others who returned from overseas great with message — E.P.Snow

when kings are reduced to thumb size and beasts are great with wisdom — Time

b. archaic : proud , arrogant


a. : prominent , renowned

a great politician

a great dictator

a great creator of confusion in the political scene

: eminent , distinguished

a great poet

the great and aging father of modern electronics

: important , significant

one of the great theories in Christian ethics

: weighty , effective

a great argument in criminal-law practice

a great truth

b. : chief or preeminent over others

the great work of his old age was the decoration of the chapel — Encyc. Americana

defines the scope of some of the great questions that call for answers — W.H.Bucher

the great novelist of the war years

— often used in titles

Lord Great Chamberlain


(1) : belonging to the aristocracy

most people thought it quite natural that great folk should have great privileges — G.B.Shaw

(2) : marked by an aristocratic, dignified, lofty bearing : grand

great ladies descending from their chauffeured cars

d. : being to a notable degree

a great beauty

a great indignity

e. : being on a large scale

appealed to the great manufacturers for help

f. : having large holdings

the great farmers of the area

6. : long continued : lengthened in duration

a great while

a great interval

7. : favorite

a great trick of his

a great word among the members of the club

8. chiefly dialect : friendly , chummy , thick — often used with overtones of disapproval

they've been mighty great lately, I expect it'll all blow up some day — Anna Doleshaw

9. : main , principal

held the conference in the great hall of the abbey

came down the great staircase

10. : older or younger or more remote in a family relationship by a single generation than (a specified relative)

a great -grandfather

11. : markedly superior in character or quality to others of the same class

a book that could be called good but not great

: of high purpose or nature : lofty , noble , magnanimous

a big man who needed only a little feeling to be a great man — H.J.Laski

a person committed to great ends

great of soul and generous in actions


a. : remarkably or unusually informed or skilled — used with at, on

a man great at tennis

a speaker great on international relations

b. : unusually addicted to or enthusiastic about — used with at, for, or on

a person great at talking by the hour

a person great for gallivanting all over town

mother was always great on fantasy — Catherine Hubbell

a great church worker and well-known for his philanthropies — American Guide Series: Ind.

c. : assiduous , persistent

a great talker

a great skier although he is not very good at skiing

a great collector of books

13. : wonderful , admirable — used as a generalized term of enthusiastic approval

had a great time

the attitude of all concerned was just great

14. Eastern Church : of or relating to Holy Week

great Monday

II. adverb

Etymology: Middle English grete, from grete, adjective

: in a great manner : successfully , well

things are going great

III. noun

( plural great or greats )

Etymology: Middle English grete, from grete, adjective

1. : one that is great : one that is particularly noted or notable for superiority of accomplishment especially in a particular field of activity

the music of Mozart and Beethoven and all the other greats — Deems Taylor

his playing is less monumental … than that of any of the other pianistic great — Virgil Thomson

the golfing greats of last season

some of the scientific greats — Science Illustrated

the great of London society came to their receptions — Fashion Digest

the galaxy of football greats — S.M.Spencer


[by shortening]

: great organ

3. greats plural , usually capitalized

a. : the final examination for the B.A. in classics especially with honors at Oxford University

b. : the course taken in preparation for this examination — compare great go

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.