Definition of big in English:

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Pronunciation: /biɡ/

adjective (bigger, biggest)

1Of considerable size, extent, or intensity: big hazel eyes big buildings big cuts in staff
More example sentences
  • The brand is a well made children's line, which is cut on the big size for plenty of wear.
  • He said, you'll have to take a big cut in salary and you'll have to start at the bottom.
  • Within a few minutes the men cut down two big branches from the tree.
large, sizable, substantial, great, huge, immense, enormous, extensive, colossal, massive, mammoth, vast, tremendous, gigantic, giant, monumental, mighty, gargantuan, elephantine, titanic, mountainous, Brobdingnagian;
towering, tall, high, lofty;
outsize, oversized;
capacious, voluminous, spacious;
king-size(d), man-size, family-size(d), economy-size(d)
informal jumbo, whopping, mega, humongous, monster, astronomical, ginormous
formal commodious
well built, sturdy, brawny, burly, broad-shouldered, muscular, muscly, rugged, Herculean, bulky, hulking, strapping, heavily built, thickset, stocky, solid, hefty, large;
tall, huge, gigantic;
fat, stout, portly, plump, fleshy, paunchy, corpulent, obese;
full-figured, big-boned, buxom;
roly-poly, rotund, well fed
informal hunky, beefy, husky
literary thewy
1.1 [attributive] Of a large or the largest size: my big toe
More example sentences
  • It was around this time that Tim developed frostbite on his big toe.
  • Attacks often happen at night and in 70 per cent of cases the first area to be affected is the joint of the big toe.
  • The jury found him not guilty of one charge of grievous bodily harm - a fractured big toe on the child's left foot.
1.2Grown up: I’m a big girl now
More example sentences
  • So, I told her that she is a big girl, that she has a phone number and if she wants to organise a party she can do it herself.
  • If she gets in the way, it's unfortunate, but she's a big girl, she knows the score.
  • The big girls and boys, who were already five, were allowed to bring me up and show it to me.
elder, older;
grown-up, adult, mature, grown
1.3Elder: my big sister
More example sentences
  • Like my big sister, I've a gift of time, but no idea what to do with it.
  • With her big sister, Stephanie, who is also an accomplished violinist, she grew up in the region.
  • If he can cast my big sister out, he wouldn't think twice about casting me out.
1.4 [attributive] informal Doing a specified action very often or on a very large scale: a big eater a big gambler
More example sentences
  • Mickelson may be a big gambler, but all too often when the pressure is at its most intense he has left himself a busted flush.
  • We're not big bean eaters in my household so doubtless I'll have plenty of spare to offer around at work.
  • Though she was not a big eater herself, she enjoyed making other people happy with her meals.
1.5 informal On an ambitiously large scale: a small company with big plans
More example sentences
  • Although his dad has big ambitions for him, financial constraints are a problem.
  • For once, they are the big spenders, with the big ambitions and better players.
  • Its ambition was to create big films that could make an impact on the US market.
ambitious, far-reaching, grandiose, on a grand scale
1.6Showing great enthusiasm: a big tennis fan he tells me the Inuits of the Arctic are very big on Jim Reeves
More example sentences
  • The affable star is big on eye contact, and smiles easily and often.
  • Japanese cookery is big on freshness, using produce in season and sourced locally, where possible.
  • As tourist must-sees go, this part of Brittany isn't big on manufactured attractions.
1.7 (big with) archaic Advanced in pregnancy: my wife was big with child figurative a word big with fate
More example sentences
  • Adam longed to be in Christopher's position: looking at his wife's pretty face as he caressed her pregnant belly, getting big with his baby.
  • "Well, well, I was the first one to say that Marcelina was big with child, wasn't I? But of course no one would believe me."
  • So, as the tale tells, the queen soon knew that she was big with child.
2Of considerable importance or seriousness: it’s a big decision Mark’s biggest problem is money he made a big mistake
More example sentences
  • She got it wrong on the restart, a little mistake but big consequences for everybody else.
  • This was a big mistake and he always regretted the decision to give the plane to the museum.
  • He doesn't wield any real power as long as the committee gets to make the big decisions.
important, significant, major, momentous, weighty, consequential, far-reaching, impactful, key, vital, critical, crucial, life-and-death
2.1 informal Popular or exciting interest among the public: Latino bands that are big in Los Angeles
More example sentences
  • The Christmas draw on the same night was also a big success with a big demand for tickets right up to the time for the draw.
  • The festival has been a big success this year with the children's events extremely popular.
  • All the sideshows and games attracted a lot of support and the bonny baby competition was a big success too.
popular, successful, in demand, sought-after, all the rage
informal hot, in, cool, trendy, now, hip
2.2 informal Holding an important position or playing an influential role: as a senior in college, he was a big man on campus
More example sentences
  • Michael, a young American poet, was a big influence on me at that time.
  • Because of the greater variability in the consumers, research plays a big role.
  • He was a big influence during his time at the Crown Ground and it's thanks to him in many ways that we've got where we are today.
powerful, important, prominent, influential, high-powered, leading, preeminent;
3 [predicative] informal, often ironic Generous: “I’m inclined to take pity on you.” “That’s big of you!”
More example sentences
  • It was big of you to come out and say that you actually saw a Sunday matinee when it was still in theaters.
  • I think it was very, very big of him to come after being asked to step down.
  • That was very big of you to admit your faults.
generous, kind, kindly, caring, compassionate, loving


(the bigs) North American informal
The major league in a professional sport: the day he made it to the bigs, he forgot every minor league ballpark he ever played in
More example sentences
  • Unlike other parts of the Caribbean, where seeing the hometown boys in the bigs is a source of pride, the Mexican baseball powers have decided to keep the product local.
  • What are the most important metrics you use in evaluating whether a minor leaguer can be successful in the bigs?
  • But as the first minor-leaguer I followed to make good in the bigs, he holds a special distinction in my eyes.



big bucks

informal Large amounts of money, especially as pay or profit: Emily earns big bucks on Wall Street
More example sentences
  • He showed us how to use big money, and now big money has become the rule of the day.
  • For some, this was a sign that money, big money, could be made by making a movie of the story.
  • We were never like big, big money, but we made a lot of money and we also spent a lot on things like travelling musicians and dancers.

the big idea

chiefly ironic A clever or important intention or scheme: okay, what’s the big idea?
More example sentences
  • If ever there was a big idea translated into policy by a president that was it.
  • No doubt the plans for a regional parliament another bureaucratic big idea will bring even more burden to the over-stretched taxpayer.
  • The big idea here is to pay attention when watching.

the big lie

A gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body.
Example sentences
  • The politician knows these facts but also knows his big lie will probably endure.
  • ‘Climate change’; it sounds innocuous, but for some scientists it spells doom, to others it represents a big lie.
  • Told with sincerity to a people anxious for reassurance, deriving from some source beyond and greater than its speaker, the big lie is so outrageously improbable that no one could possibly make it up.

the big screen

informal The movies: the play was adapted for the big screen
More example sentences
  • I suggest you see it when it hits the cinema, as films like this are designed for the big screen.
  • All I can say is that a lot of people missed an opportunity to see a great piece of cinema on the big screen.
  • However, the inclusion of a few scenes here and there is not why you have to see this film on the big screen.

big shot

Pronunciation: /ˈbiɡ ˌSHät/
informal An important or influential person.
Example sentences
  • Often, the talk his editors wanted was from big shots, businessmen promoting themselves or wallowing in rancor.
  • And the author found half a dozen business big shots who made the same claim.
  • This was the poshest colony in the town, and all the inhabitants of the area were sons or grandsons, or great grandsons of big shots.

big stick

Pronunciation: /ˌbiɡ ˈstik/
informal The use or threat of force or power: the authorities used quiet persuasion instead of a big stick
More example sentences
  • It is now panicking and waving the big stick of the threat to cap, which is something it said it would not do.
  • They don't need a big stick or a royal warning to force them - they know it makes good business sense.
  • Does he use a big stick or does he have extraordinary powers of motivation?

the Big Three, (Four, etc.)

informal The dominant group of three, four, etc. increased competition between the Big Three networks
More example sentences
  • With the squad due to leave on their Far East tour tomorrow morning, it is important that the Big Three's destiny is decided rapidly.
  • The survey indicated that cost is more important to the Big Three than its foreign competitors.
  • Each player was given a separate amount of chips before the game and the four members of the Big Four were ready to play.

go over big

informal Have a great effect; be a success: the story went over big with the children
More example sentences
  • He began by saying he hadn't come to relive the 2000 election - and then spent half his speech doing just that, which of course went over big with the crowd.
  • It went over big with the crowd, and if you voted for the opposition, you probably found it amusing.
  • It is, rather, sentimental, and sentimentality always goes over big in the commercial theater, so long as it's disguised as realism.

in a big way

informal On a large scale; with great enthusiasm: he contributed to the project in a big way they went for it in a big way
More example sentences
  • If the project takes off in a big way, the potential for a more realistic movie experience may not be very far off.
  • People, especially those in the bigger cities, are investing in a big way in mutual funds.
  • Of course, their cause was aided in a big way by one of the biggest corporations around.

make it big

informal Become very successful or famous: Simon had made it big in the financial world
More example sentences
  • For every successful cartoonist who makes it big, there are thousands of other equally talented artists that go completely unrecognized.
  • Most people think of success as making it big in power and money.
  • I spent a few years playing in a garage band and the biggest failure there was we never really tried to make it big.

talk big

informal Talk boastfully or overconfidently: he talked big, blinding her with legal jargon
More example sentences
  • His detractors on both left and right, however, say he talked big but accomplished little.
  • As for the minister, this won't be the first time he has talked big but achieved much less.
  • My dad was the type who talked big about getting a new car, but rarely acted.

think big

informal Be ambitious: to trade in a heavyweight world market we must think big
More example sentences
  • Donald learned the business from his father, but with a twist: He thought big, very BIG.
  • In business terms and culturally we are very similar: a small people thinking big, and I urge any ambitious company to go for it.
  • The logo is the mark of a bank thinking big and growing into an ambitious and resplendent entity.

too big for one's britches (or breeches)

informal Conceited.
Example sentences
  • Basically, they think you're too big for your boots and want you cut down to size.
  • After his eldest boy's graduation ceremony he said: ‘Don't get too big for your boots, son.’
  • If you've got wealth, privilege or exalted connections crowned with success, then in this country you are judged way too big for your boots and in need of an urgent reality check.



Example sentences
  • This is a biggish step up for him but he has the class.
  • For an asking price of £700,000, you get a biggish three- or four- bedroom house with a large living/dining area.
  • So I looked again and, sure enough, in sheltered water behind a biggish rock there were two creatures.


Pronunciation: /ˈbiɡnəs/
Example sentences
  • This bigness of heart, this largesse of the soul, is a characteristic of hers that has been remarked on frequently, though in all honesty I must say I have never experienced it firsthand.
  • ‘When you see the bigness of a show like that and the impact it makes, you can't help but want to do something like that,’ John said.
  • Truly, it is that bigness that we all should be seeking.


Middle English (in the sense 'strong, mighty'): of unknown origin.

  • Like many small words, big appeared from nowhere. It is first recorded in the early Middle Ages meaning ‘strong, powerful’, and clear examples referring just to size do not emerge until the 16th century. The sense ‘elder’ as in big brother or big sister is first found in the 19th century. In George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-four the head of state is called Big Brother, and ‘Big Brother is watching you’ is the caption on posters showing his face. The novel was published in 1949, and very quickly people started using Big Brother to refer to any person or organization exercising total control over people's lives. Various other phrases involving big refer to an important or influential person, such as big cheese, which first came into use in American slang during the early 1900s. It almost certainly has no connection with food—the word cheese here probably comes from Urdu and Persian cīz, which just means ‘thing’.

Words that rhyme with big

brig, dig, fig, gig, grig, jig, lig, pig, prig, rig, snig, sprig, swig, tig, trig, twig, Whig, wig

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: big

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