adjective, greater, greatest.
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.:
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.
a great inventor.
of noble or lofty character:
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.
being of one generation more remote from the family relative specified (used in combination):
Informal. very well:
Things have been going great for him.
noun, plural greats (especially collectively) great.
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.
(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.
the superlative of great
(slang) the greatest, an exceptional person
relatively large in size or extent; big
relatively large in number; having many parts or members: a great assembly
of relatively long duration: a great wait
of larger size or more importance than others of its kind: the great auk
extreme or more than usual: great worry
of significant importance or consequence: a great decision
arising from or possessing idealism in thought, action, etc; heroic: great deeds
illustrious or eminent: a great history
impressive or striking: a great show of wealth
much in use; favoured: poetry was a great convention of the Romantic era
active or enthusiastic: a great walker
doing or exemplifying (a characteristic or pursuit) on a large scale: what a great buffoon, he’s not a great one for reading
(often foll by at) skilful or adroit: a great carpenter, you are great at singing
(informal) excellent; fantastic
(Brit, informal) (intensifier): a dirty great smack in the face
(archaic) (postpositive) foll by with
(intensifier, used in mild oaths): Great Scott!
(informal) be great on
(informal) very well; excellently: it was working great
Also called great organ. the principal manual on an organ Compare choir (sense 4), swell (sense 16)
early 13c., superlative of great.
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.
Excellent; wonderful: Hey, that’s really great (1848+)
A famous person, esp an athlete or entertainer: Weiss, a former football ”great” (1400+)
noun 1. the largest number that is a common divisor of a given set of numbers. Abbreviation: G.C.D. noun 1. another name for highest common factor
- Greatest generation
noun a term for those born between 1911-1924, the generation which gave birth to the Baby Boomers Word Origin 1998; from Tom Brokaw book Usage Note U.S.; sometimes lowercase
- Greatest happiness principle
noun 1. the ethical principle that an action is right in so far as it promotes the greatest happiness of the greatest number of those affected See utilitarianism
- Greatest thing since sliced bread
Also, best thing since sliced bread. An excellent new invention, as in Harry swears that this new program is the greatest thing since sliced bread. This phrase, used either straightforwardly or sarcastically, alludes to the convenience of buying bread that is already sliced. [ Mid-1900s ]