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 formsbig-time, adjectivebig-tim·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for big time

Contemporary Examples of big time

Historical Examples of big time

  • Big-time Caribbean piracy had grown from very respectable origins.

    The Syndic

    C.M. Kornbluth

  • You know—a feeling like a try-out before a big-time manager.

    Believe You Me!

    Nina Wilcox Putnam

  • Sherwoods are big-time people, you know; a sister who's a regular somebody.

  • No one rejoiced more than they when they learned that he was at last in the big-time circuit.

  • Krasnow is a big-time operator; I've always been, you might say, in the peanut end of the game.

    Back to Julie

    Richard Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for big time

big time


  1. the big timethe highest or most profitable level of an occupation or profession, esp the entertainment business
  2. (as modifier)a big-time comedian
Derived Formsbig-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

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

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. [Colloquial; c. 1900] Also see big league.

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