designating a city or country and its adjacent area: Greater New York; Greater Los Angeles.

Origin of Greater

First recorded in 1570–80; great + -er4



adjective, great·er, great·est.

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.
  1. enthusiastic about some specified activity (usually followed by at, for, or on): He's great on reading poetry aloud.
  2. 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.

noun, plural greats, (especially collectively) great.

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.
  1. the final examination for the bachelor's degree in the classics and mathematics, or Literae Humaniores, especially at Oxford University and usually for honors.
  2. the course of study.
  3. 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

before 900; Middle English greet, Old English grēat; cognate with Dutch groot, German gross
Related formsgreat·ness, nounhalf-great, adjectiveo·ver·great, adjectiveo·ver·great·ly, adverbo·ver·great·ness, nounqua·si-great, adjectivequa·si-great·ly, adverb

Synonyms for great

1. immense, enormous, gigantic, huge, vast, grand. Great, big, large refer to size, extent, and degree. In reference to the size and extent of concrete objects, big is the most general and most colloquial word, large is somewhat more formal, and great is highly formal and even poetic, suggesting also that the object is notable or imposing: a big tree; a large tree; a great oak; a big field; a large field; great plains. When the reference is to degree or a quality, great is the usual word: great beauty; great mistake; great surprise; although big sometimes alternates with it in colloquial style: a big mistake; a big surprise; large is not used in reference to degree, but may be used in a quantitative reference: a large number ( great number ). 6. noteworthy. 7. weighty, serious, momentous, vital, critical. 8. famed, eminent, noted, notable, prominent, renowned. 9. elevated, exalted, dignified. 10. main, grand, leading.

Antonyms for great

1. small. 6–8, 10, 11, 14. insignificant. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for greater

Contemporary Examples of greater

Historical Examples of greater

British Dictionary definitions for greater



(of a city) considered with the inclusion of the outer suburbsGreater London



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
  1. of exceptional talents or achievements; remarkablea great writer
  2. (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
  1. pregnantgreat with child
  2. full (of)great with hope
(intensifier, used in mild oaths)Great Scott!
be great on informal
  1. to be informed about
  2. to be enthusiastic about or for


informal very well; excellentlyit was working great


Also called: great organ the principal manual on an organCompare choir (def. 4), swell (def. 16)
Derived Formsgreatly, adverbgreatness, noun

Word Origin for great

Old English grēat; related to Old Frisian grāt, Old High German grōz; see grit, groat
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 greater

Old English gryttra, Anglian *gretra; comparative of great.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with greater


In addition to the idioms beginning with great

  • great deal
  • great guns
  • great many
  • great minds run in the same channel, all
  • great shakes
  • great white hope

also see:

  • good (great) deal
  • good (great) many
  • go to any length (great lengths)
  • have a good (great) mind to
  • make great strides
  • no great shakes
  • set (great) store by
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.