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90s Slang You Should Know


[greyt] /greɪt/
adjective, greater, greatest.
unusually or comparatively large in size or dimensions:
A great fire destroyed nearly half the city.
large in number; numerous:
Great hordes of tourists descend on Europe each summer.
unusual or considerable in degree, power, intensity, etc.:
great pain.
wonderful; first-rate; very good:
We had a great time. That's great!
being such in an extreme or notable degree:
great friends; a great talker.
notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding:
a great occasion.
important; highly significant or consequential:
the great issues in American history.
distinguished; famous:
a great inventor.
of noble or lofty character:
great thoughts.
chief or principal:
the great hall; his greatest novel.
of high rank, official position, or social standing:
a great noble.
much in use or favor:
“Humor” was a great word with the old physiologists.
of extraordinary powers; having unusual merit; very admirable:
a great statesman.
of considerable duration or length:
We waited a great while for the train.
  1. enthusiastic about some specified activity (usually followed by at, for, or on):
    He's great on reading poetry aloud.
  2. skillful; expert (usually followed by at or on):
    He's great at golf.
being of one generation more remote from the family relative specified (used in combination):
a great-grandson.
Informal. very well:
Things have been going great for him.
noun, plural greats (especially collectively) great.
a person who has achieved importance or distinction in a field:
She is one of the theater's greats.
great persons, collectively:
England's literary great.
(often initial capital letter) greats, (used with a singular verb). Also called great go. British Informal.
  1. the final examination for the bachelor's degree in the classics and mathematics, or Literae Humaniores, especially at Oxford University and usually for honors.
  2. the course of study.
  3. the subject studied.
(used to express acceptance, appreciation, approval, admiration, etc.).
(used ironically or facetiously to express disappointment, annoyance, distress, etc.):
Great! We just missed the last train home.
great with child, being in the late stages of pregnancy.
Origin of great
before 900; Middle English greet, Old English grēat; cognate with Dutch groot, German gross
Related forms
greatness, noun
half-great, adjective
overgreat, adjective
overgreatly, adverb
overgreatness, noun
quasi-great, adjective
quasi-greatly, adverb
1. immense, enormous, gigantic, huge, vast, grand. Great, big, large refer to size, extent, and degree. In reference to the size and extent of concrete objects, big is the most general and most colloquial word, large is somewhat more formal, and great is highly formal and even poetic, suggesting also that the object is notable or imposing: a big tree; a large tree; a great oak; a big field; a large field; great plains. When the reference is to degree or a quality, great is the usual word: great beauty; great mistake; great surprise; although big sometimes alternates with it in colloquial style: a big mistake; a big surprise; large is not used in reference to degree, but may be used in a quantitative reference: a large number (great number ). 6. noteworthy. 7. weighty, serious, momentous, vital, critical. 8. famed, eminent, noted, notable, prominent, renowned. 9. elevated, exalted, dignified. 10. main, grand, leading.
1. small. 6–8, 10, 11, 14. insignificant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for great
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But, with a movement of great swiftness, Garson got in front of her, and barred her going.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • great stories of Sara's marvelous temper had gone about the camp.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • Returning to the mountain, the fairies, in a band, went with him to the great rock.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • Five hundred workmen were polishing off their plates in the great room.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • And if they are asked why, they answer: ‘There are three great evils in our district!’

British Dictionary definitions for great


relatively large in size or extent; big
relatively large in number; having many parts or members: a great assembly
of relatively long duration: a great wait
of larger size or more importance than others of its kind: the great auk
extreme or more than usual: great worry
of significant importance or consequence: a great decision
  1. of exceptional talents or achievements; remarkable: a great writer
  2. (as noun): the great, one of the greats
arising from or possessing idealism in thought, action, etc; heroic: great deeds
illustrious or eminent: a great history
impressive or striking: a great show of wealth
much in use; favoured: poetry was a great convention of the Romantic era
active or enthusiastic: a great walker
doing or exemplifying (a characteristic or pursuit) on a large scale: what a great buffoon, he's not a great one for reading
(often foll by at) skilful or adroit: a great carpenter, you are great at singing
(informal) excellent; fantastic
(Brit, informal) (intensifier): a dirty great smack in the face
(archaic) (postpositive) foll by with
  1. pregnant: great with child
  2. full (of): great with hope
(intensifier, used in mild oaths): Great Scott!
(informal) be great on
  1. to be informed about
  2. to be enthusiastic about or for
(informal) very well; excellently: it was working great
Also called great organ. the principal manual on an organ Compare choir (sense 4), swell (sense 16)
Derived Forms
greatly, adverb
greatness, noun
Word Origin
Old English grēat; related to Old Frisian grāt, Old High German grōz; see grit, groat
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 great

Old English great "big, tall, thick, stout; coarse," from West Germanic *grautaz "coarse, thick" (cf. Old Saxon grot, Old Frisian grat, Dutch groot, German groß "great").

Said to have meant originally "big in size, coarse," and, if so, perhaps from PIE root *ghreu- "to rub, grind." It took over much of the sense of Middle English mickle, and is now largely superseded by big and large except for non-material things.

As a prefix to terms denoting "kinship one degree further removed" (early 15c., earliest attested use is in great uncle) it is from the similar use of French grand, itself used as the equivalent of Latin magnus. An Old English way of saying "great-grandfather" was þridda fæder, literally "third father."

In the sense of "excellent, wonderful" great is attested from 1848. Great White Way "Broadway in New York City" is from 1901. Great Spirit "high deity of the North American Indians," 1703, originally translates Ojibwa kitchi manitou. The Great War originally (1887) referred to the Napoleonic Wars, later (1914) to what we now call World War I (see world).

"The Great War" -- as, until the fall of France, the British continued to call the First World War in order to avoid admitting to themselves that they were now again engaged in a war of the same magnitude. [Arnold Toynbee, "Experiences," 1969]
Also formerly with a verb form, Old English greatian, Middle English greaten "to become larger, increase, grow; become visibly pregnant," which became archaic after 17c.

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



Excellent; wonderful: Hey, that's really great (1848+)


A famous person, esp an athlete or entertainer: Weiss, a former football ''great'' (1400+)

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 great
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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