[ mey-jer ]
See 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.

  1. Education.

    • a subject or field of study chosen by a student to represent their principal interest and upon which a large share of their efforts are concentrated: History was my major in college.

    • a student engaged in such study.

  2. a person of full legal age (opposed to minor).

  3. Music. a major interval, chord, scale, etc.

  4. the majors,

    • Sports. the major leagues: He coached in the majors as well as in the minors.

    • 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.

  1. serious or risky: a major operation.

  2. of or relating to the majority: the major opinion.

  3. of full legal age.

  4. Music.

    • (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.

    • (of a chord) having a major third between the root and the note next above it.

  5. pertaining to the subject in which a student takes the most courses: Her major field is English history.

  6. (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

First recorded in 1350–1400; from Latin, comparative of magnus “great, large”; replacing Middle English maio(u)r, majour, from Anglo-French, from Latin, as above; see origin at majesty

synonym study For major

8. See capital1.

Other definitions for Major (2 of 2)

[ mey-jer ]

  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. 2023

How to use major in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for major (1 of 2)


/ (ˈmeɪdʒə) /

  1. military an officer immediately junior to a lieutenant colonel

  2. a person who is superior in a group or class

  1. a large or important company: the oil majors

  2. (often preceded by the) music a major key, chord, mode, or scale

  3. US, Canadian, Australian and NZ

    • the principal field of study of a student at a university, etc: his major is sociology

    • a student who is studying a particular subject as his principal field: a sociology major

  4. a person who has reached the age of legal majority

  5. logic a major term or premise

  6. a principal or important record company, film company, etc

  7. the majors (plural) US and Canadian the major leagues

  1. larger in extent, number, etc: the major part

  2. of greater importance or priority

  1. very serious or significant: a major disaster

  2. main, chief, or principal

  3. of, involving, or making up a majority

  4. music

    • (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

    • relating to or employing notes from the major scale: a major key

    • (postpositive) denoting a specified key or scale as being major: C major

    • denoting a chord or triad having a major third above the root

    • (in jazz) denoting a major chord with a major seventh added above the root

  5. logic constituting the major term or major premise of a syllogism

  6. mainly US, Canadian, Australian and NZ of or relating to a student's principal field of study at a university, etc

  7. British the elder: used after a schoolboy's surname if he has one or more younger brothers in the same school: Price major

  8. of full legal age

  9. (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 interest: the book majors on the peasant dishes

Origin of major

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

Derived forms of major

  • majorship, noun

British Dictionary definitions for Major (2 of 2)


/ (ˈmeɪdʒə) /

  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