Definition of big in English:

big

Line breaks: big
Pronunciation: /bɪɡ
 
/

adjective (bigger, biggest)

1Of considerable size or extent: her big hazel eyes big buildings big staff cuts
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.
Synonyms
large, sizeable, of considerable size, substantial, considerable, great, huge, immense, enormous, extensive, colossal, massive, mammoth, vast, prodigious, tremendous, gigantic, giant, monumental, mighty, stupendous, gargantuan, elephantine, titanic, epic, mountainous, megalithic, monstrous, Brobdingnagian;
towering, tall, high, lofty;
outsize, oversized, overgrown, cumbersome, unwieldy;
inordinate, unlimited, goodly;
capacious, voluminous, commodious, spacious, good-size(d), fair-size(d);
informal jumbo, whopping, whopping great, thumping, thumping great, bumper, mega, humongous, monster, astronomical, cosmic, almighty, dirty great, socking great, tidy
British informal whacking, whacking great, ginormous
literary massy
tall, huge, gigantic;
fat, stout, portly, plump, heavy, overweight, oversize, fleshy, paunchy, corpulent, obese, gargantuan, elephantine
informal hunky, hulking, beefy, husky
North American informal buff
dated stalwart
literary thewy, stark
1.1 [attributive] Larger than other items of the same kind: 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.
Synonyms
grown-up, adult, mature, grown, full grown;
elder, older
1.3 [attributive] Elder: 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 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.
Synonyms
ambitious, far-reaching, on a grand scale;
grandiose, unrealistic, overambitious
1.5 [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.
1.6 informal Showing great enthusiasm: a big tennis fan
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 informal Very popular or successful: African bands which are big in Britain
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.
Synonyms
popular, successful, commercially successful, in demand, sought-after, all the rage
informal hot, in, cool, trendy, now, hip
British informal , dated all the go
2Of considerable importance or seriousness: it’s a big decision his 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.
Synonyms
important, significant, major, of great import, of significance, momentous, of moment, weighty, consequential, of consequence, far-reaching, key, vital, critical, crucial, life-and-death, high-priority, serious, grave, solemn;
2.1 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.
Synonyms
powerful, important, prominent, influential, high-powered, leading, pre-eminent, of high standing, outstanding, well known, eminent, distinguished, principal, foremost, noteworthy, notable, noted;
North American major-league
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.
Synonyms

verb (bigs, bigging, bigged)

[with object] (big something up) British informal Back to top  
Praise or recommend something highly: the record’s been on the streets a while now, but it’s certainly still worth bigging up
More example sentences
  • There are posters all over the place bigging it up, but it is so nondescript from the outside that it's easy to mistake for a regular hedge.
  • United bigged him up on tour and then dropped him like a stone on his return to Manchester.
  • I don't want to big it up too much, as then the whole experience might fail to meet my expectations.

noun

(the bigs) North American informal Back to top  
The major league in a professional sport.
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.

Origin

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

Phrases

big with child

archaic In a late stage of pregnancy.
More example sentences
  • After some months, the weary young girl, now big with child, came to the city of Torre-Longa.
  • My wife, big with child, was sitting in the rocking chair a few feet from me, and I was sitting by the table.
  • The woman was very big with child and rode on a donkey, and her husband went from door to door seeking shelter for his wife, but he was told at every inn that there was no vacancy.

the Big Board

US informal The New York Stock Exchange.

big cheese

see cheese2.
More example sentences
  • Virtually everybody in the factory - the boss, or should I say the big cheese, included - is gathered round, transfixed by the Japanese Grand Prix.
  • Somehow, I don't think you'd get that with an audience of big cheeses.
  • Someone recommended I talk to them because they were the big cheeses when it comes to films.

Big Chief

(also Big Daddy)
informal A person in authority; the head of an organization or enterprise.
More example sentences
  • Of course, the Big Daddy of advocates for personal investment accounts within Social Security is the President.
  • Exactly 30 years ago the original Big Daddy seized power and began a nine-year reign of terror.
  • The Big Chief has resigned for ‘personal reasons’ and ‘to pursue other career interests’.

the big five

A name given by hunters to the five largest and most dangerous African mammals: rhinoceros, elephant, buffalo, lion, and leopard.
More example sentences
  • Another good option is to fly to the Maasai Mara, Kenya's top wildlife sanctuary and home to the big five - elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo.
  • Hundreds of thousands from all over the world flock here year round for a glimpse of the big five: elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino and lion.
  • Most people on safari are after the big five - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino.

the big idea

chiefly ironic A clever or important intention or scheme: the government’s big idea was to make public services competitive
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.
More 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.

big money

(chiefly North American also big bucks)
informal Large amounts of money: 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.

big name

(or big noise)
informal A person who is famous in a particular sphere: he’s a big name in athletics
More example sentences
  • It isn't primarily about the big names and grand events of history, it is about the substance of ordinary lives.
  • So far he's been touted as the big name celebrity to enter the house - could the adjournment be anything to do with that?
  • One thing I never tried to be was a celebrity, a big name in this profession.
Synonyms
VIP, important person, notable, notability, personage, dignitary, grandee;
informal somebody, heavyweight, hotshot, big shot, big gun, big cheese, big fish, biggie, big bug, Big Chief, Big Daddy, honcho
British informal brass hat
North American informal big wheel
Australian/New Zealand informal joss

the big screen

informal The cinema.
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

informal An important or influential person.
More 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.

the big stick

informal The use or threat of force or power: the authorities used quiet persuasion instead of the 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 (or Four etc.)

informal The three, four, etc., most important or powerful figures in a particular field: increased competition between the Big Three cider-makers
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.

come (or 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.

give someone the big E

British informal Reject someone.
[E from elbow]
More example sentences
  • That said, it’s inadvisable to give him the big E just because he used his fish knife to butter his bread.
  • Do you have any tips or tricks on how to give her the big E?
  • The end result is that people like me - people who are reliable, people he can trust - get given the big E.

in a big way

informal To a great extent or high degree: he contributed to the film 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.
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: Henry was new to the job but he was already talking big
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.
Synonyms
brag, boast, crow, bluster, exaggerate
Australian/New Zealand informal skite, big-note oneself

think big

informal Be ambitious.
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 boots (or dated breeches)

informal Conceited.
More 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.
Synonyms
conceited, full of oneself, cocky, boastful, arrogant, cocksure, above oneself, self-important, immodest, swaggering, strutting;
vain, self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, pleased with oneself, self-loving, in love with oneself, self-admiring, self-regarding, smug, complacent
informal big-headed, swollen-headed
literary vainglorious
rare peacockish

Derivatives

biggish

adjective
More 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.

bigness

noun
More 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.

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