adjective, heav·i·er, heav·i·est.

noun, plural heav·ies.


Origin of heavy

before 900; Middle English hevi, Old English hefig, equivalent to hef(e) weight (akin to heave) + -ig -y1
Related formsheav·i·ness, nouno·ver·heav·i·ness, nouno·ver·heav·y, adjectiveul·tra·heav·y, adjectiveun·heav·i·ness, nounun·heav·y, adjective

Synonyms for heavy

1. ponderous, massive, weighty. 5. dense. 9. onerous, grievous, cumbersome; difficult, severe. 14. Heavy, momentous, weighty refer to anything having a considerable amount of figurative weight. Heavy suggests the carrying of a figurative burden: words heavy with menace. Momentous emphasizes the idea of great and usually serious consequences: a momentous occasion, statement. Weighty, seldom used literally, refers to something heavy with importance, often concerned with public affairs, which may require deliberation and careful judgment: a weighty matter, problem. 15. gloomy, mournful, dejected, despondent, downcast, downhearted. 16. tedious, tiresome, wearisome, burdensome, boring. 17. sluggish, lumbering. 19. lowering, gloomy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heaviness

Contemporary Examples of heaviness

Historical Examples of heaviness

  • Some of the heaviness of his spirit always left him at sight of the little house.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • But, what with the heat and with heaviness of spirit, he did not notice her depression until he rose.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Life is pleasant enough to me; dull and full of heaviness to you.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • Mr. Quinn, when he was told of the heaviness of Henry's slumber, said "Let him lie on!"

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • These were only light spells of heaviness, replete with vague charm that calmed her nerves.

    Therese Raquin

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for heaviness


adjective heavier or heaviest

of comparatively great weighta heavy stone
having a relatively high densitylead is a heavy metal
great in yield, quality, or quantityheavy rain; heavy traffic
great or considerableheavy emphasis
hard to bear, accomplish, or fulfilheavy demands
sad or dejected in spirit or moodheavy at heart
coarse or broada heavy line; heavy features
(of soil) having a high clay content; cloggy
solid or fatheavy legs
(of an industry) engaged in the large-scale complex manufacture of capital goods or extraction of raw materialsCompare light 2 (def. 19)
serious; grave
  1. armed or equipped with large weapons, armour, etc
  2. (of guns, etc) of a large and powerful type
(of a syllable) having stress or accentuationCompare light 2 (def. 24)
dull and uninterestinga heavy style
prodigiousa heavy drinker
(of cakes, bread, etc) insufficiently leavened
deep and louda heavy thud
(of music, literature, etc)
  1. dramatic and powerful; grandiose
  2. not immediately comprehensible or appealing
  1. unpleasant or tedious
  2. wonderful
  3. (of rock music) having a powerful beat; hard
weighted; burdenedheavy with child
clumsy and slowheavy going
permeatinga heavy smell
cloudy or overcast, esp threatening rainheavy skies
not easily digestiblea heavy meal
(of an element or compound) being or containing an isotope with greater atomic weight than that of the naturally occurring elementheavy hydrogen; heavy water
horse racing (of the going on a racecourse) soft and muddy
slang using, or prepared to use, violence or brutalitythe heavy mob
heavy on informal using large quantities ofthis car is heavy on petrol

noun plural heavies

  1. a villainous role
  2. an actor who plays such a part
  1. a large fleet unit, esp an aircraft carrier or battleship
  2. a large calibre or weighty piece of artillery
the heavies (usually plural) informal a serious newspaperthe Sunday heavies
informal a heavyweight boxer, wrestler, etc
slang a man hired to threaten violence or deter others by his presence
Scot strong bitter beer


  1. in a heavy manner; heavilytime hangs heavy
  2. (in combination)heavy-laden
Derived Formsheavily, adverbheaviness, noun

Word Origin for heavy

Old English hefig; related to hebban to heave, Old High German hebīg
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 heaviness

Old English hefigness "heaviness, weight; burden, affliction; dullness, torpor;" see heavy + -ness.



mid-13c., "something heavy; heaviness," from heavy (adj.). Theatrical sense of "villain" is 1880.



Old English hefig "heavy, having much weight; important, grave; oppressive; slow, dull," from Proto-Germanic *hafiga "containing something; having weight" (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German hebig, Old Norse hofugr, Middle Dutch hevich, Dutch hevig), from PIE *kap- "to grasp" (see capable). Jazz slang sense of "profound, serious" is from 1937 but would have been comprehensible to an Anglo-Saxon. Heavy industry recorded from 1932. Heavy metal attested by 1839 in chemistry; in nautical jargon from at least 1744 in sense "large-caliber guns on a ship.

While we undervalue the nicely-balanced weight of broadsides which have lately been brought forward with all the grave precision of Cocker, we are well aware of the decided advantages of heavy metal. ["United Services Journal," London, 1830]

As a type of rock music, from 1972.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with heaviness


In addition to the idioms beginning with heavy

  • heavy going
  • heavy hand, with a
  • heavy heart, with a
  • heavy hitter

also see:

  • hot and heavy
  • make heavy weather of
  • play the heavy
  • time hangs heavy
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.