Definition of great in English:


Line breaks: great
Pronunciation: /greɪt


  • 1Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above 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, pronounced, sizeable, significant, appreciable, serious, exceptional, inordinate, extraordinary, speciallarge, big, extensive, expansive, broad, wide, sizeable, ample, spacious; vast, immense, huge, enormous, gigantic, massive, colossal, mammoth, monstrous, prodigious, tremendous, stupendous, unlimited, boundless, cosmic
    informal humongous, whopping, whopping great, thumping, thumping great, dirty great
    British informal whacking, whacking great, ginormous
  • 1.1 [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.
  • 1.2 (also greater) [attributive] Used in names of animals or plants which are larger than similar kinds, e.g. great tit, greater celandine.
    More 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.
  • 1.3 (Great) [attributive, in place names] Denoting the larger or largest part of a place: Great Malvern
    More example sentences
    • The Historic market town of Great Dunmow is proving a hotbed for stars of the future as talented youngsters hit the stage and screen.
    • Although not as hustling and bustling as 100 years ago, the sea town of Great Yarmouth and its surrounding areas are still as busy with everyday life.
    • And the lovely town of Great Malvern itself provides a step back in time to a more genteel era.
  • 1.4 (Greater) [attributive] (Of a city) including adjacent urban areas: Greater Manchester
    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.
  • 4 [in combination] (In names of family relationships) denoting one degree further removed upwards or downwards: great-aunt 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.
  • 5 [predic.] Irish (Of two people) on very close or intimate terms: one of the boys was very great with her
    More example sentences
    • Michael was terrible great with Jack and he had a big shake-hands for the two of us.


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  • 1An important or distinguished person: the Beatles, Bob Dylan, all the greats (as plural noun the great) the lives of the great, including Churchill and Newton
    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.
  • 2 (Greats) another term for Literae Humaniores.
    More 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.


informal Back to top  
  • Very well; excellently: 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.


the great and the good

often • ironic Distinguished and worthy people collectively: an impressive gathering of the great and the good
More example sentences
  • She is truly one of the distinguished band of the great and the good who is consulted on the issues of the day.
  • What was passing through the minds of the great and the good as they prayed in St Paul's Cathedral last week, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’?
  • I would like to thank our loyal army of readers for boosting our sales, and the great and the good of this county who welcomed me into the community.

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!

dated Expressing surprise or amazement: Great Scott! You scored two hundred and seventy-three!
[arbitrary euphemism for Great God!]
More 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', of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch groot and German gross.

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