- 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 greatness
He appeared to understand however belatedly that he was in the presence of another kind of greatness.Shot Down During the NYPD Slowdown
January 7, 2015
But hopefully the greatness of the series will be memorialized, too.'The Newsroom' Ended As It Began: Weird, Controversial, and Noble
December 15, 2014
Hershel also believes that a higher power has destined Rick for greatness.The Walking Dead’s Luke Skywalker: Rick Grimes Is the Perfect Modern-Day Mythical Hero
October 28, 2014
King had accomplished much, but his greatness was already behind him.Tavis Smiley Humanely Chronicles MLK’s Sad Last Year
October 16, 2014
No matter that Williams was a guest artist that week, Winkler knew he was observing “greatness.”How Mork Melted the Fonz: Henry Winkler Recalls Robin Williams’s Storming ‘Happy Days’ Debut
August 12, 2014
For a man's heart is sensitive in proportion to its greatness.
Voices were raised saying we had to look to our past for the greatness and glory.
But we have no promise from God that our greatness will endure.
But such action on his part offended the greatness of the law's dignity.Within the Law
I want to liberate Englishmen so far as I can from the tyranny of Shakespeare's greatness.The Man Shakespeare
- 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 greatness
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 greatness
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