adjective, big·ger, big·gest.


Informal. boastfully; pretentiously: to act big; to talk big.
Informal. with great success; successfully: to go over big.


the bigs, Sports Slang. the highest level of professional competition, as the major leagues in baseball.

Nearby words

  1. bifrost,
  2. bifter,
  3. bifunctional,
  4. bifurcate,
  5. bifurcation,
  6. big and bold,
  7. big apple,
  8. big apple, the,
  9. big as life,
  10. big bad wolf


    be big on, to have a special liking or enthusiasm for: Mother is big on family get-togethers.
    big with child. great(def 23).

Origin of big

1250–1300; Middle English big(ge) < ?

1. huge, immense; bulky, massive; capacious, voluminous; extensive. See great. 4. consequential. 15. overflowing, flooded.

Related formsbig·gish, adjectivebig·ly, adverb, adjective



or bigg


verb (used with object), bigged, big·ging. British Dialect.

to build.

Origin of big

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.



or big


noun Scot. and North England.

four-rowed barley.

Origin of bigg

1400–50; late Middle English big, bigge < Old Norse bygg barley, cognate with Old English bēow Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for big

British Dictionary definitions for big



adjective bigger or biggest

of great or considerable size, height, weight, number, power, or capacity
having great significance; importanta big decision
important through having power, influence, wealth, authority, etcthe big four banks
(intensifier usually qualifying something undesirable)a big dope
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
(often foll by with) brimming; fullmy heart is big with sadness
extravagant; boastfulhe's full of big talk
(of wine) full-bodied, with a strong aroma and flavour
too big for one's boots or too big for one's breeches conceited; unduly self-confident
in an advanced stage of pregnancy (esp in the phrase big with child)
big on informal enthusiastic aboutthat company is big on research

adverb informal

boastfully; pretentiously (esp in the phrase talk big)
in an exceptional way; wellhis talk went over big with the audience
on a grand scale (esp in the phrase think big)
See also big up

Derived Formsbiggish, adjectivebigness, noun

Word Origin for big

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

verb bigs, bigging, bigged or bug (bʌɡ) Scot

to build
to excavate (earth) into a pile

Word Origin for big

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.

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.

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