Definition of great in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡrāt/


1Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average: the article was of great interest she showed great potential as an actor
More example sentences
  • He's a young lad with a good physique and a great amount of potential.
  • Her work forces the viewer to think, and above all to feel, with great intensity.
  • Father Jones who hosted the event in is house thanks all those who helped in any way to raise such a great amount.
considerable, substantial, significant, appreciable, special, serious;
exceptional, extraordinary
large, big, extensive, expansive, broad, wide, sizable, ample;
1.1Very large and imposing: a great ocean between them
More example sentences
  • Rows of teeth exposed between the great jaws that turned the oceans into a sea of blood.
  • However, the book inhabits the surface of the great ocean of Russia more than the depths.
  • Last week saw a symbolic end for Clydebank, where once the great ocean liners were launched.
1.2 [attributive] Used to reinforce another adjective of size or extent: a great big grin
More example sentences
  • It was a lovely moment, happening just after we'd got into bed and I think I went to sleep with a great big grin on my face.
  • I gave him a great big Yorkshire grin and looked around nervously.
  • This comes in a great handy little size and is very trendy and a very good price.
1.3 [attributive] Used to express surprise, admiration, or contempt, especially in exclamations: you great oaf!
More example sentences
  • You have no right to order me around anymore, you great lump.
  • ‘Will you shut up, you great twit?’
  • Get your priorities right, you great oaf.
1.4 (also greater) [attributive] Used in names of animals or plants that are larger than similar kinds, e.g., great auk, greater flamingo.
Example sentences
  • The Great Tit has all the characters of the other Parus species and is unmistakable given its large, robust size, relatively heavy bill and domed head.
  • When searching for food a great spotted woodpecker usually alights on the trunk then works upwards and often from side to side.
  • There are two species of dogfish in Guernsey waters, the Lesser Spotted and the Greater Spotted of Bull Huss.
1.5 (Greater) [attributive] (Of a city) including adjacent urban areas: Greater Cleveland
More example sentences
  • Merton is an outer London Borough situated in the South West of Greater London and covers an area of 9380 acres, some of which are open parklands.
  • The Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble is a community band that rehearses in Bristol and performs in the greater Bristol area.
  • Archaeologists have unearthed a ‘mini-Stonehenge’ in Greater Manchester, England, which dates back to about 5,000 years.
2Of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average: the great Italian conductor we obeyed our great men and leaders great art has the power to change lives
More example sentences
  • He did concede, however, that there were some whose quality was so great that they must be saved.
  • Westlake, for you youngsters, is a crime novelist of long standing and great eminence.
  • The event is just dreadful and yet the way it's recorded is great art and it leads us into a kind of paradox.
leading, top, major, principal, first-rate, matchless, peerless, star
2.1 (the Great) A title denoting the most important person of the name: Alexander the Great
More example sentences
  • It was a royal city from 893 to 972 and the reign of Tsar Simeon the Great was the heyday of its glory.
  • It was on May 5th in the year of 1950 that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great was crowned.
  • He seemed to be bred for the Navy, like his great Ancestor Piotr the Great.
2.2 informal Very good or satisfactory; excellent: this has been another great year what a great guy wouldn’t it be great to have him back? [as exclamation]: “Great!” said Tom
More example sentences
  • This is slightly harder to do, but with practice it makes an excellent show-stopper and a great way to win a pig.
  • The staff always go out of their way for me, too, and the guys who own it are great blokes.
  • I never knew his Dad, but if he was anything like his son I'm sure he was a truly great guy.
2.3 [predicative] informal (Of a person) very skilled or capable in a particular area: a brilliant man, great at mathematics
More example sentences
  • She knows how all - consuming life becomes in this business and she is great at keeping my feet on the ground.
  • She was great at reading other people, just not so perceptive when it came to herself.
  • I'm terribly proud of her and I think she's great at her job, and being a mother.
expert, skillful, skilled, adept, accomplished, talented, fine, masterly, master, brilliant, virtuoso, marvelous, outstanding, first-class, superb
informal crack, ace, A1, class
3 [attributive] Denoting the element of something that is the most important or the most worthy of consideration: the great thing is the challenge
More example sentences
  • The air of studied banality persists even during moments of great importance.
  • Meditation is of great importance and is central to the practice of the Eightfold Path.
  • The room was next to the kitchen and was a place of great importance.
powerful, dominant, influential, strong, potent, formidable, redoubtable;
leading, important, foremost, major, chief, principal
3.1Used to indicate that someone or something particularly deserves a specified description: I was a great fan of Hank’s
More example sentences
  • Eileen is very quiet and Brian is wonderful, he has been a great friend of mine over the years and I am delighted for them.
  • As a great fan of porridge, I was looking forward to judging the offerings.
  • I'm a great fan of cryptic crosswords, even though they are tantalisingly difficult.
4 [in combination] (In names of family relationships) denoting one degree further removed upward or downward: great-aunt great-granddaughter great-great-grandfather
More example sentences
  • My great-grandmother's fabulous turkey stuffing recipe is revealed!
  • My great grandfather left the area and moved to one of the great Welsh mining valleys and began working for the Cooperative Society as a butcher.
  • So it is quite possible that your great-great-grandfather could have been a well-paid manager for a fairground family for many years.


1A great or distinguished person: the Beatles, Bob Dylan, all the greats
More example sentences
  • In America she worked with the greats of jazz, people like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.
  • She has never envied the success of country music's greats.
  • She has that effortless way with a song that only the greats have.
1.1 (as plural noun the great) Great people collectively: the lives of the great, including Churchill and Newton
More example sentences
  • MOVIE GREATS is where you'll re-acquaint yourself with the true Hollywood greats or discover them for the first time, with movies that became legendary or cult hits presented in entertaining festivals and specials.
  • The finals are the stage on which all the greats want to prove themselves.
2 (Greats) British informal another term for Literae Humaniores.
Example sentences
  • Never in the strict sense of the word a clever man - even by the academic standard (he took only a third in Mods. and a second in Greats, and worked hard for them, too) - he became an extraordinarily well-educated one.
  • Born and brought up in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, he gained an open scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1948, reading Greats and taking a diploma in Classical Archaeology.
  • He went on to graduate from Oxford in 1907 with a degree in the “greats”, Literae Humaniores.


Excellently; very well: we played awful, they played great
More example sentences
  • We got along great when we were dating, living together, and even MUCH better once we got married.
  • They played great in all their matches.
  • I think he did great in this, it's a big film to walk into.



great and small

Of all sizes, classes, or types: all creatures great and small
More example sentences
  • The government-run Nature Reserve is not just about looking after the orang-utans, however - it is about preserving an entire wildlife habitat, ensuring that all species great and small within the resort are protected.
  • Rugby is a team sport, but one which has been said to be the most ‘democratic'. That is, all creatures great and small can play the game.
  • Available and affordable to all people, great and small, this half-moon of golden flaky pastry filled with spicy ground beef is the kind of food upon which admirable societies are based.

a great deal

see deal1.

a great many

see many.

a great one for

A habitual doer of; an enthusiast for: my father was a great one for buying gadgets
More example sentences
  • My father wasn't a great one for books, although he read the newspaper carefully, listened to radio broadcasts of the news and sport, and encouraged me to read.
  • He was a great one for talking to people and a very amusing character.
  • I'm not a great one for e-mail campaigns and joining in protests, probably mostly because I'm just not a ‘joining’ sort of person, but I found that this horrific story just demands action.

Great Scott!

Expressing surprise or amazement.
Arbitrary euphemism for Great God!
Example sentences
  • ‘Great Scott!’ he gasped in his stupefaction, using the name of the then commander-in-chief for an oath, as officers sometimes did in those days.
  • Great Scott, he's done it again!
  • Great Scott, who would have thought that this would be the destiny of the Union Volunteer in 1861-2 while marching down Broadway to the tune of 'John Brown's Body.

to a great extent

In a substantial way; largely: we are all to a great extent the product of our culture
More example sentences
  • According to him, this applies to a great extent to the German market, which is extremely volatile at the moment.
  • This loosened the existing caste rigidities to a great extent.
  • The lack of aid in the northeast bothered me to a great extent.


Old English grēat 'big'; related to Dutch groot and German gross.

Words that rhyme with great

abate, ablate, aerate, ait, await, backdate, bait, bate, berate, castrate, collate, conflate, crate, create, cremate, date, deflate, dictate, dilate, distraite, donate, downstate, eight, elate, equate, estate, fate, fête, fixate, freight, frustrate, gait, gate, gestate, gradate, grate, gyrate, hate, hydrate, inflate, innate, interrelate, interstate, irate, Kate, Kuwait, lactate, late, locate, lustrate, mandate, mate, migrate, misdate, misstate, mistranslate, mutate, narrate, negate, notate, orate, ornate, Pate, placate, plate, prate, prorate, prostrate, pulsate, pupate, quadrate, rate, rotate, sate, sedate, serrate, short weight, skate, slate, spate, spectate, spruit, stagnate, state, straight, strait, Tate, tête-à-tête, Thwaite, translate, translocate, transmigrate, truncate, underrate, understate, underweight, update, uprate, upstate, up-to-date, vacate, vibrate, wait, weight

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: great

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