[ gahr-gan-choo-uhn ]
/ gɑrˈgæn tʃu ən /
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gigantic; enormous; colossal: a gargantuan task.
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Origin of gargantuan

First recorded in 1585–95; Gargantu(a) + -an

Words nearby gargantuan

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does gargantuan mean?

Gargantuan means extraordinarily large or huge. Some things are more than huge—they’re gargantuan.

The word is commonly applied to physical objects whose size makes you marvel with awe. Blue whales are gargantuan. Skyscrapers are gargantuan. The Grand Canyon is gargantuan.

But it can also be applied to intangible things, as in With all the champagne and caviar that we ordered, the bill for dinner is going to be gargantuan. 

It is especially associated with things involving food, such as a gargantuan appetite or a gargantuan meal.

Similar adjectives are gigantic, giant, colossal, and mammoth. A more formal synonym is massive. More informal synonyms are humongous and ginormous.

Something might be considered gargantuan only in comparison to other similar things. For example, an unusually large grapefruit might be described as gargantuan even though it’s not all that big in general—it’s simply gargantuan compared to normal-sized grapefruits. Still, it’s usually used to describe things that are objectively huge, like redwood trees or the planet Jupiter.

Gargantuan is sometimes casually used to mean extremely important or significant—much like the figurative use of big and huge. Sometimes, this is negative, as in gargantuan error or gargantuan failure.

Example: You don’t realize how gargantuan the sun is until you see an image of a planet next to it for scale.

Where does gargantuan come from?

The first records of the word gargantuan come from the late 1500s. It comes from Gargantua, the name of a giant king from the 1534 satirical novel Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais. In the novel, Gargantua is known for his gargantuan appetite—hence the word’s association with food. Gargantua’s son, Pantagruel, is also a giant.

Gargantuan is usually reserved for things that are truly, spectacularly huge, or things that exist in amounts that are far greater than what is usual, as in The lottery jackpot is truly gargantuan—it is now over $1 billion.

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What are some synonyms for gargantuan?

What are some words that share a root or word element with gargantuan

What are some words that often get used in discussing gargantuan?

How is gargantuan used in real life?

Gargantuan is especially applied to things involving food. Otherwise, it’s typically used to describe things that are truly massive.



Try using gargantuan!

Which of the following words is a synonym of gargantuan?  

A. gigantic
B. massive
C. enormous
D. all of the above

How to use gargantuan in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for gargantuan

/ (ɡɑːˈɡæntjʊən) /

(sometimes capital) huge; enormous

usage for gargantuan

Some people think that gargantuan should only be used to describe things connected with food: a gargantuan meal; his gargantuan appetite
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