- 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.
- enthusiastic about some specified activity (usually followed by at, for, or on): He's great on reading poetry aloud.
- 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.
- 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.
- the final examination for the bachelor's degree in the classics and mathematics, or Literae Humaniores, especially at Oxford University and usually for honors.
- the course of study.
- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for greats
Food, in large part, is what is currently putting this city up there with the greats.The Foodie Capital of Canada
May 31, 2014
Today, Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum honors all the greats, including Muddy Waters.The U.S. Road Trips You Should Really Take
April 26, 2014
It paid tribute to the greats that came before it, all while laughing at itself and chronicling a legendary friendship.I Watched ‘Psych’ For 8 Years and All I Got Was This Lackluster Finale
March 27, 2014
Satisfied, but not content, Gold strives to live up to her surname, as well as stamp it on the long list of American greats.Figure Skater Gracie Gold Is America’s Darling in Sochi
February 19, 2014
All the greats have one from George Washington to Tony Soprano.The Return of the Power Paunch
May 1, 2013
He would go down in history as one of the greats of science.The Monster
S. M. Tenneshaw
It would take a four-years course in Greats to argue it out, Roger.Adrienne Toner
Anne Douglas Sedgwick
With a second in Greats he had taken the first appointment that turned up.Old Mole
This indeed seems to be the country of the greats and the grands.
A story pseudonymously penned by one of the greats in the genre.Where the World is Quiet
- the Honour School of Literae Humaniores, involving the study of Greek and Roman history and literature and philosophy
- the final examinations at the end of this course
- relatively large in size or extent; big
- relatively large in number; having many parts or membersa great assembly
- of relatively long durationa great wait
- of larger size or more importance than others of its kindthe great auk
- extreme or more than usualgreat worry
- of significant importance or consequencea great decision
- of exceptional talents or achievements; remarkablea great writer
- (as noun)the great; one of the greats
- arising from or possessing idealism in thought, action, etc; heroicgreat deeds
- illustrious or eminenta great history
- impressive or strikinga great show of wealth
- much in use; favouredpoetry was a great convention of the Romantic era
- active or enthusiastica great walker
- doing or exemplifying (a characteristic or pursuit) on a large scalewhat a great buffoon; he's not a great one for reading
- (often foll by at) skilful or adroita great carpenter; you are great at singing
- informal excellent; fantastic
- British informal (intensifier)a dirty great smack in the face
- (postpositive foll by with) archaic
- pregnantgreat with child
- full (of)great with hope
- (intensifier, used in mild oaths)Great Scott!
- be great on informal
- to be informed about
- to be enthusiastic about or for
- informal very well; excellentlyit was working great
Word Origin and History for greats
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.
Idioms and Phrases with greats
In addition to the idioms beginning with great