- 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.
- enthusiastic about some specified activity (usually followed by at, for, or on): He's great on reading poetry aloud.
- 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.
- 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.
- the final examination for the bachelor's degree in the classics and mathematics, or Literae Humaniores, especially at Oxford University and usually for honors.
- the course of study.
- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for greatest
What had been the greatest asset of the paperback revolution,” observes Rabinowitz, “became its greatest danger.How Pulp Fiction Saved Literature
January 8, 2015
Who else would see a former spouse accused of underage sex and call him ‘the greatest man there is’?Fergie Dives Into Prince Andrew’s Sex Scandal
January 5, 2015
In my opinion Lee was one of the greatest actors of all time.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile
January 3, 2015
But as everyone knows, he went on to say—not once but many times—that that was the greatest error of his career by far.Steve Scalise and the Right’s Ridiculous Racial Blame Game
January 2, 2015
With her help, we've gathered the ultimate list of the country's greatest influential bars.The Bars That Made America Great
December 28, 2014
While a Treasury surplus is not the greatest evil, it is a serious evil.
"I am making the greatest minister England ever saw," was the reply.
But for this change of study he might not have become the greatest of Chancellors of the Exchequer.
The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.
But on the first two and greatest articles of his creed, how Jasper labored!Way of the Lawless
- the superlative of great
- the greatest slang an exceptional person
- 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
- of exceptional talents or achievements; remarkablea great writer
- (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
- pregnantgreat with child
- full (of)great with hope
- (intensifier, used in mild oaths)Great Scott!
- be great on informal
- to be informed about
- to be enthusiastic about or for
- informal very well; excellentlyit was working great
Word Origin and History for greatest
early 13c., superlative 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.
Idioms and Phrases with greatest
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
- 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