Definition of minor in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmīnər/


1Lesser in importance, seriousness, or significance: minor alterations
More example sentences
  • It was not easy to find people to mend your shoes, repair your broken zipper or anything else that might be of minor importance but that is necessary for daily life.
  • Several minor incidents of little significance are included.
  • Against this kind of background, the Northern Ireland situation is of much more minor importance.
slight, small;
unimportant, insignificant, inconsequential, inconsiderable, subsidiary, negligible, trivial, trifling, paltry, petty, nickel-and-dime
informal piffling, piddling
Law  de minimis
little known, unknown, lesser, unimportant, insignificant, obscure, minor-league
informal small-time, two-bit
2 Music (Of a scale) having intervals of a semitone between the second and third degrees, and (usually) the fifth and sixth, and the seventh and eighth. Contrasted with major.
Example sentences
  • Yet by bar 3, where the two basic scale-motifs are concatenated to form five notes of an A minor scale, the tonality is in doubt.
  • The fingering chart provided on page 111 fails to identify the minor scale form being illustrated.
2.1(Of an interval) characteristic of a minor scale and less by a semitone than the equivalent major interval. Compare with diminished.
Example sentences
  • If a major interval is made a half step smaller without changing its numerical name, it becomes a minor interval.
  • Diminished intervals are created when a perfect or minor interval is made one half step smaller and the interval number is not changed.
2.2 [usually postpositive] (Of a key or mode) based on a minor scale, tending to produce a sad or pensive effect: Concerto in A minor
More example sentences
  • I think it's just that I like to compose in minor keys.
  • The touching ‘Don't Let Her Know She's An Angel’ combines Wilson's epic sentimentality with soft minor keys.
  • All three movements use fairly melodic material, all in minor keys.
3 Logic (Of a term) occurring as the subject of the conclusion of a categorical syllogism.
Example sentences
  • where P, S, and M are the major, minor, and middle terms of the syllogism.
3.1(Of a premise) containing the minor term in a categorical syllogism.
Example sentences
  • Notice that the minor premise of the syllogism above is only marginally contingent upon historical analysis.
  • In most cases, it identifies the conclusion that is to be accepted and then goes on to identify what it to be argued for (the minor premise).
  • You have to make out a major premise in this case and there is also a question as to even if you make out your major premise whether or not the minor premise is made out, given the various facts to which I referred you.


1A person under the age of full legal responsibility.
Example sentences
  • It may be now legal for minors to donate to campaigns, but I believe there is a requirement that the donors' names over a minimum amount be reported, is there not?
  • Yet, four centuries on, we are told that smoking among minors, especially young girls, is on the increase.
  • The committee was concerned about removing existing legal protections for minors if they enter into a de facto relationship.
child, infant, youth, adolescent, teenager, boy, girl
informal kid, kiddie
2 Music A minor key, interval, or scale.
Example sentences
  • Yet he will conjure a few bars in the minor where possible and darken textures by shunting to the subdominant.
  • Themes initially stated in the major mode recur more strongly in the minor.
  • Each major key is followed by its parallel minor.
2.1 (Minor) Bell-ringing A system of change-ringing using six bells.
Example sentences
  • Other terms for even numbers of bells include Minor (6 bells), Major (8 bells), Royal (10 bells) and Maximus (12 bells).
  • We ring whatever people ask for including Stedman Doubles, Crayford Minor and Norwich Surprise Minor.
3 (the minors) North American The minor leagues in a particular professional sport, especially baseball: he’s been pitching in the minors for six years
More example sentences
  • You'll never find perfect baseball in the minors, but stories from Miguel Cabrera to Bucky Jacobsen are enough for me.
  • From 1988 through 1991, Schilling had split time between the minors and the major leagues in each of those seasons.
  • Bragan's managerial ingenuity in confronting umpires was almost unlimited, both in the major leagues and the minors.
4North American A college student’s subsidiary subject or area of concentration: a minor in American Indian studies
More example sentences
  • He chose a philosophy minor, and several courses in classics as electives.
  • I have a bachelor's degree in education with an art minor from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
  • The theme school concept could easily develop into a collegiate minor.
5 Logic A minor term or premise.
Example sentences
  • I prove the minor, because your father is known by you and your father is the one approaching; hence, the one approaching is known by you.
  • This is called the fallacy of the illicit minor.
6 Bridge short for minor suit.
Example sentences
  • If you don't have a 5-card major, open your longest minor.
  • After a transfer into a minor, the opener bids the shown minor if he has at least high-honor-third in the suit.


[no object] (minor in) North American
Study or qualify in as a subsidiary subject at college or university.
Example sentences
  • As a young brother, I majored in biology and minored in religious studies at St. Mary's College, Moraga, California.
  • I too, am Native American of the Cherokee tribe and I minored in Native American studies in college.
  • Koehler has provided outstanding leadership in presenting graduate courses to students majoring and minoring in statistics.


in a minor key

(Especially of a literary work) understated.
Example sentences
  • It is a minor film in a minor key, but it is helped immeasurably by one thing - the role of Mina is played by Carole Bouquet.
  • The real trouble is a plot line from Middle Earth via the New Age that features our questing hero Tommy Matisse (the artist, get it?), well played in a minor key by Dan Spielman as a star composer at the Royal Academy of Music.
  • If ever a film was composed in a minor key, it is this beautiful and sad movie from the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which simply floats like a helium balloon above the middling mainstreamers that have rolled up this week.


Middle English: from Latin, 'smaller, less'; related to minuere 'lessen'. The term originally denoted a Franciscan friar, suggested by the Latin name Fratres Minores ( 'Lesser Brethren'), chosen by St. Francis for the order.

Words that rhyme with minor

angina, assigner, china, consignor, decliner, definer, Dinah, diner, diviner, forty-niner, hardliner, incliner, Indo-China, liner, maligner, Medina, miner, mynah, recliner, refiner, Regina, Salina, Shekinah, shiner, signer, South Carolina, Steiner, twiner, whiner

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mi·nor

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