Definition of major in English:


Line breaks: major
Pronunciation: /ˈmeɪdʒə


  • 2 Music (Of a scale) having intervals of a semitone between the third and fourth, and seventh and eighth degrees. Contrasted with minor.
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    • The number of bells in a peal varies from three to 12, usually tuned to a diatonic major scale, or part of one.
    • They're not afraid of the occasional use of a major scale, or a long drawn out peaceful ambient break.
    • Bastien uses the little tune for the first five tones of the major scale.
  • 2.1(Of an interval) equivalent to that between the tonic and another note of a major scale, and greater by a semitone than the corresponding minor interval: C to E is a major third
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    • The E-flat transposition (down a major sixth) easily can be accomplished by reading the part as if written in bass clef up one octave.
    • The tension generated throughout the work by the collision of major and minor thirds is left clearly unresolved in these closing bars.
  • 2.2 [postpositive] (Of a key) based on a major scale, tending to produce a bright or joyful effect: Prelude in G Major
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    • I can still remember the effect of his G major sonata, a decade after the concert.
    • The Symphony consists of only three movements - a pathetic Allegro in D minor, a highly original Scherzo in the same key, and a blissful Adagio in E major.
    • Brahms' Trio in B was the subject of the composer's re-write, following the composition and publication of his later trios in C major and C minor.
  • 3British dated (Appended to a surname in public schools) indicating the elder of two brothers.
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    • Brown major had a trick of bringing up unpleasant topics.
  • 4 Logic (Of a term) occurring as the predicate in the conclusion of a categorical syllogism.
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    • The argument is said to commit the fallacy of Illicit Process of the Major Term.
  • 4.1(Of a premise) containing the major term in a categorical syllogism.
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    • The multiple proofs of Cicero are collapsed into one Proof of the Reason, which functions as the major premise, while the minor premise serves as the Reason.
    • The second major premise of intelligent design is that life, especially Homo sapiens, is too complex to have just happened.


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  • 1A rank of officer in the army and the US air force, above captain and below lieutenant colonel.
    [shortening of sergeant major, formerly a high rank]
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    • One e-mail avowed that too many majors and lieutenant colonels flounder in their first joint assignments.
    • It was a letter signed by a brigadier and a major of the Sudanese Army.
    • His colleagues, a major, warrant officer and another corporal, were killed.
  • 1.1 [with modifier] An officer in charge of a section of band instruments: a trumpet major
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    • Do you want to become a trumpet major at a Canadian university or school of music?
    • In the foreground, a vast crowd marches in front of a military band led by a drum major whose face is recognizable as that of Emile Littre.
    • During the service, the Ambassador delivered a message of thanks from his country, and a pipe major played a lament at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
  • 2 Music A major key, interval, or scale.
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    • The first modulates from the tonic key and concludes with a cadence in a related key, usually the dominant for pieces in the major, the relative major for pieces in the minor.
    • By contrast, almost all of the melodies here are built on the major, the most boring of scales.
    • A two-bar episode leads to the soprano middle entry in the relative major.
  • 2.1 Bell-ringing A system of change-ringing using eight bells.
  • 3A major organization or competition: the majors have swept up the smaller independent companies in licensing deals it’s not unreasonable to believe someone can win all four majors [with modifier]: the oil majors had a profit bonanza
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    • So it is that, while Faldo outnumbers him six to five in terms of majors won, it is the man from Pedrena whom history will anoint the more significant.
    • Most of the low-cost airlines leave the majority of business travelers to the majors.
    • I never thought I'd be in a position to win all four majors.
  • 4North American A student’s principal subject or course: many students would ignore courses outside their major
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    • They are required to have a college diploma at least, and their majors in universities must be related to law or psychology.
    • The individualized major in business administration provides the opportunity for a broad survey of business subjects.
    • It is no surprise that Cornell is offering majors in disciplines so important to the wine industry.
  • 4.1 [often with modifier] A student specializing in a specified subject: a math major
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    • So I said that she had previously gone to the class for the undergraduate majors, but this one was for the graduate students.
    • All majors in honors must complete at least one semester of study abroad in a French-speaking country.
    • He's also teaching mathematics to non math majors at my old alma mater.
  • 5 Logic A major term or premise.
  • 6 Bridge short for major suit. South was anxious to mention his four-card major and bid one spade
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    • The Americans used more familiar methods: five-card majors and a 16-18 1NT with weak Two-bids in three suits.
    • He figured out that North must have had plenty of strength in both majors, and a singleton or even a void in diamonds.
  • 7 Australian Rules A goal.
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    • For Rovers it was Clifford Tommy who registered majors with one in the second and then the third quarter.
    • The Cats were the only goal scorers in the second quarter with one major, sending them in at half time 17 points ahead.
    • Solly has also pushed forward on a few occasion and contributed 14 majors.


[no object] (major in) North American & Australian /NZ Back to top  
  • Specialize in (a particular subject) at college or university: I was trying to decide if I should major in drama or English
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    • Madden graduated from Buffalo State University, where he majored in art education.
    • In Saudi Arabia, nearly one in five undergraduates majors in Islamic studies.
    • I also had four students who would be majoring in art education in college.


Middle English: from Latin, comparative of magnus 'great'; perhaps influenced by French majeur.

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