Definition of heavy in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈhɛvi/

adjective (heavier, heaviest)

1Of great weight; difficult to lift or move: a heavy and bulky load the pan was too heavy for me to carry
More example sentences
  • For example, if some of your employees must lift or move heavy objects, make sure they have the proper equipment to do so.
  • Many back injuries occur because we lift or move heavy objects without adequate stabilizing strength.
  • Instead, we helped him feed his cat, get his mail, and move furniture deemed too heavy to lift by his doctor.
weighty, hefty, big, large, substantial, massive, ponderous;
solid, dense, leaden;
informal hulking, weighing a ton
overweight, large, bulky, stout, stocky, portly, plump, paunchy, fleshy, fat, obese, corpulent, of ample build, ample, well upholstered, well padded, broad in the beam, Falstaffian
informal hulking, tubby, beefy, porky, pudgy, blubbery, poddy
British informal podgy
archaic pursy
1.1Used in questions about weight: how heavy is it?
More example sentences
  • If they really existed, just how heavy would those plates have been given the size and description by Smith?
  • How tall and how heavy is an average model supposed to be to have a good career?
  • If a brick weighs a kilogram plus half a brick, how heavy is the brick?
1.2 [attributive] (Of a class of thing) above the average weight; large of its kind: heavy artillery heavy woollens
More example sentences
  • It is not a strong action and should not be subjected to loads that are anywhere near the heavy class.
  • At the championship the Bulgarian team will defend its titles in the heavy categories, which are scheduled for the end of the week.
  • Every fourth pair will carry the heavy grade weapons.
1.3 [predicative] Weighed down; full of something: branches heavy with blossoms
More example sentences
  • A long silence weighs heavy with the major decisions he has made in his life.
  • His voice is heavy with sarcasm, and it strikes me like a punch, hard and fast.
  • Her voice was heavy with sarcasm, and annoyance flashed briefly in her eyes.
laden, loaded, covered, filled, groaning, bursting, teeming, abounding, weighed down, weighted down
1.4(Of a person’s head or eyes) feeling weighed down by weariness: a heavy head
More example sentences
  • After hours of sitting at a desk, the head is heavy and eyes are tired.
  • The next morning brings heavy heads and bleary eyes, and a need for some fresh air.
  • I have a horrible dry throat and my eyes are heavy and tired.
2Of great density; thick or substantial: heavy grey clouds heavy horn-rimmed glasses
More example sentences
  • The thick heavy grey smoke lingered among the branches and prevented the flowers and buds from being burned by frost.
  • Before touching the cat, cover her head with a thick blanket or heavy towel to protect yourself from being bitten.
  • They could see an immense mountain that stretched up into heavy thick clouds.
dense, thick, opaque, soupy, murky, smoggy, impenetrable
2.1Not delicate or graceful; coarse: he had a big moustache and heavy features
More example sentences
  • The site will be suitable for all ages, and will not feature heavy language.
  • Never one for preamble, his heavy features were hawklike with concentration.
  • As they rushed by, Mark glanced their faces, which were characterized by heavy Mexican features.
coarse, rough, rough-hewn, ungraceful, unrefined, inelegant;
rugged, craggy
2.2(Of food) hard to digest; too filling.
Example sentences
  • All too often, bread pudding is too heavy and solid, but I could have gone for another slice of this stuff.
  • Melons should not be eaten with heavy foods like cheese, deep-fried foods or the heavier grains.
  • They both cook the usual northern dishes, particularly the heavy meat and vegetable stews suited to their cold winters.
substantial, filling, hearty, large, big, ample, sizeable, generous, square, solid
2.3(Of ground or soil) muddy or full of clay.
Example sentences
  • This is a heavy soil and is sticky when wet making it hard to work with.
  • However, even heavy soils and subsoils can drain adequately if they have good crumb structure.
  • Whether the soil is heavy clay or sandy and very free draining, it can be greatly improved by the addition of bulky organic matter.
clayey, clay, viscous, viscid, muddy, sticky, glutinous, gluey, difficult, wet;
British  claggy;
Scottish & Northern English  clarty
informal gooey, gloopy, cloggy
North American informal gloppy
2.4 Physics Of or containing atoms of an isotope of greater than the usual mass. See also heavy water.
Example sentences
  • The nuclei of heavy isotopes are rich in neutrons, which dominate their nuclear surface.
  • Finally, you build an atom smasher and physically knock helium nuclei from some heavy atoms.
  • Why are there usually more neutrons than protons in a heavy element?
3Of more than the usual size, amount, or intensity: a heavy cold the traffic was heavy and I was delayed I fell into a heavy sleep
More example sentences
  • Very quickly, it became obvious that this was a trap, and they'd been set up for a heavy amount of damage.
  • However, that cut, despite the heavy amount of damage dealt to it, ceased to bleed and scabbed over.
  • The guard wore a heavy amount of armor that made him seem massive in size.
sizeable, substantial, hefty, colossal, big, considerable;
informal tidy, whopping (great), steep, astronomical
British informal whacking (great)
intense, intensive, fierce, vigorous, concentrated, relentless, all-out, severe, serious, excessive, considerable, immoderate
bountiful, plentiful, abundant, large, bumper, handsome, lavish, rich, copious, considerable, sizeable, profuse
informal whopping, thumping
British informal whacking
literary plenteous, bounteous
3.1(Of a smell) very strong: a heavy scent of oil
More example sentences
  • Within the heavy smell of must there was the slightest fragrance of perfume.
  • OK, so they didn't really cancel the race, but boy, a lot of people were left wishing they had, and there was a heavy smell of dead fish.
  • The heavy smell of perfume and sweat in the locker room hit me as I went through the two doors.
3.2 (heavy on) Using a lot of: stories heavy on melodrama
More example sentences
  • There are moments of titillation and suspense, but ultimately the movie is heavy on concept, not content.
  • I tend to go a little heavy on the sauce, hence the extra straining.
abounding in, abundant in, lavish with, generous with, liberal with, profuse with, extravagant with, free with, unstinting with, using a lot of;
overabundant in, using too much of, overusing
3.3Doing something more, or more deeply, than usual: a heavy smoker
More example sentences
  • A heavy smoker, he had been suffering from lung cancer.
  • In fact, children of heavy smokers are often fervent anti-smokers.
  • Long-term heavy smokers remain at significant risk of getting lung cancer.
immoderate, intemperate, overindulgent, unrestrained, uncontrolled, excessive
4Striking or falling with force: a heavy blow to the head we had heavy overnight rain
More example sentences
  • The freezing conditions on Saturday were tough for the two teams as heavy rain fell for spells making the surface very wet and slippy.
  • But they were kept guessing by the weather until the day itself, with heavy rain falling during the days in the run-up to the event.
  • And obviously with the fairly heavy rain that had fallen it was very soft underfoot.
forceful, hard, strong, violent, powerful, vigorous, mighty, hefty, tremendous, sharp, smart, severe, grievous
torrential, relentless, copious, intense, teeming, excessive, strong, severe
4.1(Of music, especially rock) having a strong bass component and a forceful rhythm.
Example sentences
  • The ongoing success of heavy rock music is safe in their hands.
  • I had a sudden urge to listen to my heavy rock music and went to drag my backpack out of the closet where I had deposited it.
  • She knew that her brother would want to play the CD through several times more and she had never been much of a fan of heavy rock music.
5Needing much physical effort: heavy work like repairing pathways
More example sentences
  • Searching through 38 articles in five volumes is heavy physical work.
  • Ergonomic improvements have eliminated heavy physical labor from the factory floor.
  • Women and men do heavy physical labor; however, domestic work is an exclusively female domain.
arduous, hard, physical, laborious, demanding, difficult, exacting, strenuous, tough, onerous, back-breaking, tiring, fatiguing, exhausting, wearying, gruelling
informal murderous, killing, hellish
British informal knackering
rare toilsome, exigent
5.1Moving slowly or with difficulty: steering that is heavy when parking
More example sentences
  • I asked my father to try the car last night, and he also feels the steering is heavy.
  • You will always have steering albeit heavy steering even if you lose your power steering.
6Very important or serious: a heavy discussion
More example sentences
  • Avoid being heavy and serious as a playful attitude allows you to feel unburdened and free.
  • It's best to adopt a light attitude especially in serious, heavy matters and remain in touch with your sense of humour.
  • There are no deep theories here about world events, or heavy discussion of causes and solutions.
6.1(Of a literary work) overly serious or difficult.
Example sentences
  • This book is a heavy work that attempts to carry the weight of the world upon its existential shoulders.
  • The actress/director known for heavy works with a concentration on dense language, has had two projects this month marked by a lightness of approach and a delight in humorous details.
tedious, difficult, dull, dry, serious, over-serious, heavy-going, dreary, boring, turgid, uninteresting, wearisome, dry as dust
informal deadly
6.2Mentally oppressive; hard to endure: a heavy burden of responsibility
More example sentences
  • Piloting an aeroplane is a recreational activity that carries with it a heavy burden of responsibility.
  • Perhaps indicative of the heavy burden of responsibility it carried, the film had a troubled production.
  • Recognition of this places heavy burdens and responsibilities on the Australian who holds the office.
onerous, burdensome, demanding, challenging, difficult, formidable, weighty, worrisome, wearisome, stressful, trying, crushing, exacting, oppressive
rare toilsome, exigent
6.3Feeling or expressing sadness: I left him with a heavy heart
More example sentences
  • Instead, there was sadness and a heavy heart about the decision that lies ahead of him.
  • He laments on this with heavy heart because his brother had died in the mean time and he is yet to meet his granddaughter.
  • She concluded chapter 4, her vision going fuzzy and a heavy ache in her heart; homesickness.
sad, sorrowful, melancholy, gloomy, downcast, downhearted, heartbroken, disheartened, dejected, disconsolate, demoralized, discouraged, despondent, depressed, crestfallen, crushed, disappointed, desolate, grief-stricken, grieving
informal blue, down, down in the mouth, down in the dumps
literary dolorous
archaic heartsick, heartsore
6.4 informal Serious or difficult to deal with: things were getting pretty heavy
More example sentences
  • Everything was getting pretty heavy with the play as well as all the regular school stuff.
6.5 informal (Of a person) strict or harsh: the police were really getting heavy
6.6 informal Excellent (used as a general term of approval).

noun (plural heavies)

1 informal A thing, such as a vehicle, that is large or heavy of its kind.
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile, he is leading the charge at airport to beef up the runway and expand support facilities to accommodate heavies such as the C-5 Galaxy.
1.1A large, strong man, especially one hired for protection: I needed money to pay off the heavies
More example sentences
  • They hire heavies to drive minibuses and intimidate our picket lines.
  • From the casino floor, you go through a door in the corner of the casino, guarded by a heavy.
  • By ‘real’ stress I mean when the bank heavies are actually knocking on your door and it's pay up time on the arrears on the house payments.
1.2 (heavies) British informal Serious newspapers: reporters from the Sunday heavies
1.3 informal An important person: music business heavies
More example sentences
  • Our list includes interesting cases with big names involving celebrities, political heavies and anyone else of notoriety.
  • It is unfair is when a team struggling for survival faces a foe loaded with contracted players, and the following week another club, also facing relegation, finds them stripped of the heavies and manages a win.
  • If the Indonesian judiciary really can be influenced by political heavies, this is one occasion when I hope such influence is exerted.
2 [mass noun] chiefly Scottish Strong beer, especially bitter: a pint of heavy
More example sentences
  • Lager and heavy may have replaced whiskey, folk ate chips instead of tacos, but country music is all about feeling and the sentiment was real.
  • There is a lot of laughter, no doubt fueled by the heavy in the beer tent.


[usually in combination]
Heavily: heavy-laden
More example sentences
  • Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  • Both were breathing pretty heavy, and not to mention, a couple of people were staring from different tables.
  • They climbed quick and sure, breathing heavy in the thinning air.



heavy going

Difficult or boring to deal with: she found Hilary heavy going
More example sentences
  • It was quite heavy going because of the heat and there were night duties.
  • It was relatively heavy going in the muddy conditions and was surprisingly an enjoyable game for the home side supporters despite the frustration of watching a tentative home side that has not played as a team for some time.
  • It has been mentioned that public bodies find it heavy going to dig out old records.

the heavy mob

British informal A group of strong or violent criminals or bodyguards.
Example sentences
  • And third, the sending in of the heavy mob would be interpreted by the publisher as a declaration of war, and you could forget about doing any more books with that firm - or, I suspect, any other, because the word gets around.
  • The young team was not overawed by the heavy mob's introduction.
  • He sent in the heavy mob, in the shape of his lawyers, who reminded the editor that the terms of his contract required that the great man's prose had to be printed as it stood.

make heavy weather of



Example sentences
  • It's about 18" long and sort of heavyish (the end is definitely solid).
  • ‘He needs to be playing regularly because he's a heavyish lad,’ said O'Neill.
  • I've been looking at the possibility of making a sketch book from thin card, or from a heavyish watercolour paper.


Old English hefig, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hevig, also to heave.

  • hefty from mid 19th century:

    This was originally a US dialect word formed from late Middle English heft ‘the weight of someone’, which came from Old English heave, also the source of Old English heavy. Heave-ho (Late Middle English) was originally a nautical expression, used when hauling a rope.

Words that rhyme with heavy

bevvy, bevy, Chevy, levee, Levi, levy, top-heavy

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: heavy

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.