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big time

Informal. the highest or most important level in any profession or occupation:
She's a talented violinist, but she's not ready for the big time.
Slang. a very good time.
Theater. (in vaudeville) any highly successful circuit of theaters that produces two performances daily.
Origin of big time
An Americanism dating back to 1860-65
Related forms
big-time, adjective
big-timer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for big time
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For ten years, he had been writing without selling a word and then suddenly he broke into the big time with a best-seller.

    In the Cards Alan Cogan
  • There was a big time about it, but finally the fellow had to pay a heavy fine.

    White Dandy; or, Master and I Velma Caldwell Melville
  • big time may mean Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and any or all the larger cities on the various "circuits."

  • Always a big time for Cartwright, this year it was a day for remembering.

    John Wesley, Jr. Dan B. Brummitt
  • The Christmas season is a big time for five-and-ten-cent stores such as his.

British Dictionary definitions for big time

big time

  1. the big time, the highest or most profitable level of an occupation or profession, esp the entertainment business
  2. (as modifier): a big-time comedian
Derived Forms
big-timer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for big time

"upper reaches of a profession or pursuit," c.1910 from vaudeville slang; the phrase was common in colloquial use late 19c.-early 20c. in a broad range of senses: "party, shindig, fun, frolic."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for big time

big time


Important; notable: My book was big-time (1910+)


Very much; totally: Where does it say that a congressman has the right to be on the take big time?/ It sticks big-time to any smooth surface (1970s+ Army)

[ultimately fr the outdated theater sense]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with big time

big time

An enjoyable or exciting time, as in The children came home exhausted but happy; they really had a big time at the circus. [ Mid-1800s ]
The highest or most important level in any enterprise, as in I knew that when I made it through the last audition, I was finally in the big time. [ ; c. 1900 ]
Also see: big league
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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