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See more synonyms for big on Thesaurus.com
adjective, big·ger, big·gest.
  1. large, as in size, height, width, or amount: a big house; a big quantity.
  2. of major concern, importance, gravity, or the like: a big problem.
  3. outstanding for a specified quality: a big liar; a big success.
  4. important, as in influence, standing, or wealth: a big man in his field.
  5. grown-up; mature: big enough to know better.
  6. elder: my big sister.
  7. doing business or conducted on a large scale; major in size or importance: big government.
  8. consisting of the largest or most influential companies in an industry: Big steel wants to lower prices, but the smaller mills don't.
  9. Informal. known or used widely; popular: Nouvelle cuisine became big in the 1970s.
  10. magnanimous; generous; kindly: big enough to forgive.
  11. boastful; pompous; pretentious; haughty: a big talker.
  12. loud; orotund: a big voice.
  13. (of clothing or a clothing design) made of or distinguished by voluminous fabric that is loosely or softly shaped and fitted: a big shirt; the big look.
  14. (of a wine) having more than average flavor, body, and alcoholic content.
  15. filled; brimming: eyes big with tears.
  16. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. pregnant.
  17. Obsolete. very strong; powerful.
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  1. Informal. boastfully; pretentiously: to act big; to talk big.
  2. Informal. with great success; successfully: to go over big.
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  1. the bigs, Sports Slang. the highest level of professional competition, as the major leagues in baseball.
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  1. be big on, to have a special liking or enthusiasm for: Mother is big on family get-togethers.
  2. big with child. great(def 23).
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Origin of big1

1250–1300; Middle English big(ge) < ?
Related formsbig·gish, adjectivebig·ly, adverb, adjective


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. huge, immense; bulky, massive; capacious, voluminous; extensive. See great. 4. consequential. 15. overflowing, flooded.


1. little.


or bigg

verb (used with object), bigged, big·ging. British Dialect.
  1. to build.
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Origin of big2

1150–1200; Middle English biggen orig., to inhabit < Old Norse byggja to inhabit, cognate with Old English bū(i)an, German bauen


noun Scot. and North England.
  1. bigg1.
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or big

noun Scot. and North England.
  1. four-rowed barley.
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Origin of bigg1

1400–50; late Middle English big, bigge < Old Norse bygg barley, cognate with Old English bēow
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for big

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She's one of the build that aren't so big as they look, nor yet so small as they look.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Can't tell; you don't know how big pills she's been smokin'.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I saw 'em fur years, with a big cuttin' out to show the cross-section.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And there was big, handsome, Eddie Arledge, whose father had treated him shabbily.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I've often thought I'd go into some of these big operations here.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for big


adjective bigger or biggest
  1. of great or considerable size, height, weight, number, power, or capacity
  2. having great significance; importanta big decision
  3. important through having power, influence, wealth, authority, etcthe big four banks
  4. (intensifier usually qualifying something undesirable)a big dope
  5. informal considerable in extent or intensity (esp in the phrase in a big way)
    1. eldermy big brother
    2. grown-upwhen you're big, you can stay up later
    1. generous; magnanimousthat's very big of you
    2. (in combination)big-hearted
  6. (often foll by with) brimming; fullmy heart is big with sadness
  7. extravagant; boastfulhe's full of big talk
  8. (of wine) full-bodied, with a strong aroma and flavour
  9. too big for one's boots or too big for one's breeches conceited; unduly self-confident
  10. in an advanced stage of pregnancy (esp in the phrase big with child)
  11. big on informal enthusiastic aboutthat company is big on research
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adverb informal
  1. boastfully; pretentiously (esp in the phrase talk big)
  2. in an exceptional way; wellhis talk went over big with the audience
  3. on a grand scale (esp in the phrase think big)
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See also big up
Derived Formsbiggish, adjectivebigness, noun

Word Origin

C13: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian dialect bugge big man


verb bigs, bigging, bigged or bug (bʌɡ) Scot
  1. to build
  2. to excavate (earth) into a pile
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Word Origin

from Old Norse byggja; related to Old English būian to inhabit
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

Word Origin and History for big


c.1300, northern England dialect, "powerful, strong," of obscure origin, possibly from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian dialectal bugge "great man"). Old English used micel in many of the same senses. Meaning "of great size" is late 14c.; that of "grown up" is attested from 1550s. Sense of "important" is from 1570s. Meaning "generous" is U.S. colloquial by 1913.

Big band as a musical style is from 1926. Slang big head "conceit" is first recorded 1850. Big business "large commercial firms collectively" is 1905; big house "penitentiary" is U.S. underworld slang first attested 1915 (in London, "a workhouse," 1851). In financial journalism, big ticket items so called from 1956. Big lie is from Hitler's grosse Lüge.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with big


In addition to the idioms beginning with big

  • big and bold
  • big as life
  • big bucks
  • big cheese
  • big daddy
  • big deal
  • big enchilada
  • big fish in a small pond
  • big head, have a
  • big league
  • big mouth, have a
  • big of one
  • big on
  • big shot
  • big stink
  • big time
  • big top
  • big wheel

also see:

  • go over big
  • great (big) guns
  • hit it big
  • in a big way
  • little frog in a big pond
  • make a federal case (big deal)
  • talk big
  • think big
  • too big for one's breeches
  • what's the (big) idea

Also see underbigger.

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