verb (used without object)

to choose or study as a secondary academic subject or course: to major in sociology and minor in art history.

Origin of minor

1250–1300; Middle English < Latin: smaller, less; akin to Old English min small, Old Norse minni smaller, Gothic minniza younger, Sanskrit mīnāti (he) diminishes, destroys
Can be confusedminer minor myna

Synonyms for minor

Antonyms for minor

1. major.




a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for minor

Contemporary Examples of minor

Historical Examples of minor

British Dictionary definitions for minor



lesser or secondary in amount, extent, importance, or degreea minor poet; minor burns
of or relating to the minority
below the age of legal majority
  1. (of a scale) having a semitone between the second and third and fifth and sixth degrees (natural minor)See also harmonic minor scale, melodic minor scale
  2. (of a key) based on the minor scale
  3. (postpositive)denoting a specified key based on the minor scaleC minor
  4. (of an interval) reduced by a semitone from the major
  5. (of a chord, esp a triad) having a minor third above the root
  6. (esp in jazz) of or relating to a chord built upon a minor triad and containing a minor seventha minor ninth See also minor key, minor mode
logic (of a term or premise) having less generality or scope than another term or proposition
US education of or relating to an additional secondary subject taken by a student
(immediately postpositive) British the younger or junior: sometimes used after the surname of a schoolboy if he has an older brother in the same schoolHunt minor
(postpositive) bell-ringing of, relating to, or denoting a set of changes rung on six bellsgrandsire minor


a person or thing that is lesser or secondary
a person below the age of legal majority
US and Canadian education a subsidiary subject in which a college or university student needs fewer credits than in his or her major
music a minor key, chord, mode, or scale
logic a minor term or premise
  1. a determinant associated with a particular element of a given determinant and formed by removing the row and column containing that element
  2. Also called: cofactor, signed minorthe number equal to this reduced determinant
(capital) another name for Minorite


(intr usually foll by in) US education to take a minor
Compare major

Word Origin for minor

C13: from Latin: less, smaller; related to Old High German minniro smaller, Gothic minniza least, Latin minuere to diminish, Greek meiōn less
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 minor

early 13c., menour "Franciscan" (see minor (n.)), from Latin minor "less, lesser, smaller, junior," figuratively "inferior, less important," formed as a masculine/feminine form of minus on the mistaken assumption that minus was a neuter comparative, from PIE root *mei- "small" (see minus).

Some English usages are via Old French menor "less, smaller, lower; underage, younger," from Latin minor. Meaning "underage" is from 1570s. Meaning "lesser" in English is from early 15c.; that of "less important" is from 1620s. The musical sense is from 1690s. In the baseball sense, minor league is from 1884; the figurative extension is first recorded 1926.


early 14c., "a Franciscan," from Latin Fratres Minores "lesser brethren," name chosen by St. Francis, who founded the order, for the sake of humility; see minor (adj.). From c.1400 as "minor premise of a syllogism." From 1610s as "person under legal age" (Latin used minores (plural) for "the young"). Musical sense is from 1797. Meaning "secondary subject of study, subject of study with fewer credits than a major" is from 1890; as a verb in this sense from 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

minor in Medicine




Lesser or smaller in amount, extent, or size.
Lesser in seriousness or danger.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.