See more synonyms for major on
  1. a commissioned military officer ranking next below a lieutenant colonel and next above a captain.
  2. one of superior rank, ability, etc., in a specified class.
  3. Education.
    1. a subject or field of study chosen by a student to represent his or her principal interest and upon which a large share of his or her efforts are concentrated: History was my major at college.
    2. a student engaged in such study.
  4. a person of full legal age (opposed to minor).
  5. Music. a major interval, chord, scale, etc.
  6. the majors,
    1. Sports.the major leagues: He coached in the majors as well as in the minors.
    2. the companies or organizations that lead or control a particular field of activity: the oil majors.
  1. greater in size, extent, or importance: the major part of the town.
  2. great, as in rank or importance: a major political issue; a major artist.
  3. serious or risky: a major operation.
  4. of or relating to the majority: the major opinion.
  5. of full legal age.
  6. Music.
    1. (of an interval) being between the tonic and the second, third, sixth, or seventh degrees of a major scale: a major third; a major sixth.
    2. (of a chord) having a major third between the root and the note next above it.
  7. pertaining to the subject in which a student takes the most courses: Her major field is English history.
  8. (initial capital letter) (of one of two male students in an English public school who have the same surname) being the elder or higher in standing: Hobbes Major is not of a scientific bent.
verb (used without object)
  1. to follow a major course of study: He is majoring in physics.

Origin of major

1350–1400; < Latin, comparative of magnus large (cf. majesty); replacing Middle English majour < Anglo-French < Latin, as above

Synonym study

8. See capital1.


  1. Clarence,born 1936, U.S. novelist and poet.
  2. John,born 1943, British political leader: prime minister 1990–97. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for major

Contemporary Examples of major

Historical Examples of major

British Dictionary definitions for major


  1. military an officer immediately junior to a lieutenant colonel
  2. a person who is superior in a group or class
  3. a large or important companythe oil majors
  4. (often preceded by the) music a major key, chord, mode, or scale
  5. US, Canadian, Australian and NZ
    1. the principal field of study of a student at a university, etchis major is sociology
    2. a student who is studying a particular subject as his principal fielda sociology major
  6. a person who has reached the age of legal majority
  7. logic a major term or premise
  8. a principal or important record company, film company, etc
  9. the majors (plural) US and Canadian the major leagues
  1. larger in extent, number, etcthe major part
  2. of greater importance or priority
  3. very serious or significanta major disaster
  4. main, chief, or principal
  5. of, involving, or making up a majority
  6. music
    1. (of a scale or mode) having notes separated by the interval of a whole tone, except for the third and fourth degrees, and seventh and eighth degrees, which are separated by a semitone
    2. relating to or employing notes from the major scalea major key
    3. (postpositive)denoting a specified key or scale as being majorC major
    4. denoting a chord or triad having a major third above the root
    5. (in jazz) denoting a major chord with a major seventh added above the root
  7. logic constituting the major term or major premise of a syllogism
  8. mainly US, Canadian, Australian and NZ of or relating to a student's principal field of study at a university, etc
  9. British the elder: used after a schoolboy's surname if he has one or more younger brothers in the same schoolPrice major
  10. of full legal age
  11. (postpositive) bell-ringing of, relating to, or denoting a method rung on eight bells
  1. (intr usually foll by in) US, Canadian, Australian and NZ to do one's principal study (in a particular subject)to major in English literature
  2. (intr usually foll by on) to take or deal with as the main area of interestthe book majors on the peasant dishes
Derived Formsmajorship, noun

Word Origin for major

C15 (adj): from Latin, comparative of magnus great; C17 (n, in military sense): from French, short for sergeant major


  1. Sir John. born 1943, British Conservative politician: Chancellor of the Exchequer (1989–90); prime minister (1990–97)
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 major

c.1300, from Latin maior (earlier *magjos), irregular comparative of magnus "large, great" (see magnate). Used in music (of modes, scales, or chords) since 1690s, on notion of an interval a half-tone greater than the minor.


military rank, 1640s, from French major, short for sergent-major, originally a higher rank than at present, from Medieval Latin major "chief officer, magnate, superior person," from Latin maior "an elder, adult," noun use of the adjective (see major (adj.)). The musical sense attested by 1797.


"focus (one's) studies," 1910, American English, from major (n.) in sense of "subject of specialization" (1890). Related: Majored; majoring. Earlier as a verb, in Scottish, "to prance about, or walk backwards and forwards with a military air and step" [Jamieson, 1825].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper