Definition of great in English:



  • 1Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.

    ‘the article was of great interest’
    ‘she showed great potential as an actor’
    • ‘She was a kindly and Christian lady, who also did a great amount of knitting for charity.’
    • ‘It calls for a great amount of maturity to understand how much one can handle.’
    • ‘Knowing that in purely physical terms we can mix it with the best has given us a great amount of confidence and composure.’
    • ‘There is no doubt that the West Coast has an immense amount of great scenery and things to do.’
    • ‘The children generally have a hunger to learn and are bright students with great potential.’
    • ‘It may be of great interest to hear something about the role of the Parish Council in this conflict.’
    • ‘Father Jones who hosted the event in is house thanks all those who helped in any way to raise such a great amount.’
    • ‘In the first half we played with great rhythm and intensity which gave us some breathing space in the second half.’
    • ‘The organic industry is fairly new in Australia and has great potential for expansion.’
    • ‘It makes little sense that they would have loaded a great amount of treasure on an unescorted ship.’
    • ‘Despite a great amount of controversy at the time and efforts to keep them open, two of the town's schools closed.’
    • ‘Her work forces the viewer to think, and above all to feel, with great intensity.’
    • ‘At the early meetings there was great interest and enthusiasm, but that dwindled.’
    • ‘We got a really great response with amount of entries last year as well as the turnout of people on the night.’
    • ‘He's a young lad with a good physique and a great amount of potential.’
    • ‘There is a great interest in the swimming competition, which is highly commendable.’
    • ‘He had an intensely inquisitive mind and a great interest in the natural sciences.’
    • ‘The violins, viola and cello were played with great vigour, intensity and lyrical beauty.’
    • ‘A great amount of money has been spent on it, and the money is all up there on the screen.’
    • ‘I also think that going through the process of applying will itself do York a great amount of good.’
    considerable, substantial, pronounced, sizeable, significant, appreciable, serious, exceptional, inordinate, extraordinary, special
    large, big, extensive, expansive, broad, wide, sizeable, ample, spacious
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    1. 1.1Very large and imposing.
      ‘a great ocean between them’
      • ‘Rows of teeth exposed between the great jaws that turned the oceans into a sea of blood.’
      • ‘But even giant waves moving at the speed of jet airliners still take hours to cross great oceans.’
      • ‘Greenshank spend the summer in wild country, haunting the great flows of Sutherland.’
      • ‘Grazing animals spread into the great grasslands of North America, Africa, and Asia.’
      • ‘Last week saw a symbolic end for Clydebank, where once the great ocean liners were launched.’
      • ‘It is not yet know if any spend winter south of the Sahara in some years and north of the great desert in others.’
      • ‘However, the book inhabits the surface of the great ocean of Russia more than the depths.’
      • ‘Most of the world's oxygen is produced by the planctum in the great oceans.’
      magnificent, imposing, impressive, awe-inspiring, grand, splendid, majestic, monumental, glorious, sumptuous, resplendent, lavish, beautiful
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    2. 1.2[attributive]Used to reinforce another adjective of size or extent.
      ‘a great big grin’
      • ‘Marshall is not only a dedicated daddy to Hailie, he is also a great big brother to Nathan.’
      • ‘You can tell they want you to have an image of them riding into town on either a huge black horse, or a great big motorbike.’
      • ‘It was green, but it wasn't a grasshopper, despite having great big elbowy legs.’
      • ‘All entrants are mixed up in a great big cybertombola, and the lucky winners get tickets.’
      • ‘He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.’
      • ‘How it works is that music on a station's playlist is entered in to a great big database.’
      • ‘This is the place that gave me my first source of income in this great big scary city.’
      • ‘Was the artist just making a great big pile of cardboard with a hidden message?’
      • ‘The roads that lead you to them are essentially rubble and mud, lined with great big piles of more mud.’
      • ‘I had to present Michael with a great big sabre to cut the cake - we had a real laugh with it.’
      • ‘The Luxor is a great big pyramid and everything in the building is Egyptian themed.’
      • ‘You get a great big bowl of them, plus another bowl to put the shells in, and they are cooked in this exquisite sauce.’
      • ‘I often forget that I'm not just a great big hopeless loser who is totally alone in this.’
      • ‘Macy's is a great big department store chain in the United States.’
      • ‘I gave him a great big Yorkshire grin and looked around nervously.’
      • ‘Sometimes a great big moon comes up out of the Pacific, reflecting silver on the sea.’
      • ‘This comes in a great handy little size and is very trendy and a very good price.’
      • ‘I turn, look out of the window, and see great big fluffy snowflakes tumbling out of the sky.’
      • ‘It was a lovely moment, happening just after we'd got into bed and I think I went to sleep with a great big grin on my face.’
      • ‘As we were preparing to set off further up the hill, a great big bank of mist started rolling up towards us.’
      very, extremely, exceedingly, exceptionally, especially, tremendously, immensely, extraordinarily, remarkably, really, truly
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    3. 1.3[attributive]Used to express surprise, admiration, or contempt, especially in exclamations.
      ‘you great oaf!’
      • ‘No one told you to move, you great lump! Stand still!’
      • ‘“You great liar, Grayson,” Heath said with a subdued laugh.’
      • ‘‘Will you shut up, you great twit?’’
      • ‘Get your priorities right, you great oaf.’
      • ‘You have no right to order me around anymore, you great lump.’
      absolute, total, utter, out-and-out, downright, thorough, complete
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    4. 1.4[attributive]Used in names of animals or plants that are larger than similar kinds, e.g., great auk, greater flamingo.
      • ‘When searching for food a great spotted woodpecker usually alights on the trunk then works upwards and often from side to side.’
      • ‘The Great Tit has all the characters of the other Parus species and is unmistakable given its large, robust size, relatively heavy bill and domed head.’
      • ‘Greater bindweed also climbs though the hedge. Its big white trumpet flowers open during the day then twist closed as night falls.’
      • ‘Walking around the dykes we saw Brown-throated Martins flying low over the water hawking for insects, as well as Greater Striped Swallows.’
      • ‘There are two species of dogfish in Guernsey waters, the Lesser Spotted and the Greater Spotted of Bull Huss.’
    5. 1.5[attributive](of a city) including adjacent urban areas.
      ‘Greater Cleveland’
      • ‘It was a high energy evening on April 2 when 700 regional leaders gathered to celebrate those who do much for the Greater Washington community.’
      • ‘The Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble is a community band that rehearses in Bristol and performs in the greater Bristol area.’
      • ‘Merton is an outer London Borough situated in the South West of Greater London and covers an area of 9380 acres, some of which are open parklands.’
      • ‘Archaeologists have unearthed a ‘mini-Stonehenge’ in Greater Manchester, England, which dates back to about 5,000 years.’
      • ‘The Greater Edinburgh area offers the perfect lodging alternative for every itinerary, from world-class hotels downtown to intimate bed and breakfast inns throughout the countryside.’
  • 2Of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average.

    ‘the great Italian conductor’
    ‘we obeyed our great men and leaders’
    ‘great art has the power to change lives’
    • ‘She has a child-like curiosity about everything and a great ability to pick on things.’
    • ‘It's not so much to produce something of great quality as to prove to yourself that you really can write a novel if you put your mind to it.’
    • ‘Like great works of art or literature, they express the spirit of the age.’
    • ‘He did concede, however, that there were some whose quality was so great that they must be saved.’
    • ‘Westlake, for you youngsters, is a crime novelist of long standing and great eminence.’
    • ‘His athletic ability is so great that he can line up on either side or as a linebacker at times.’
    • ‘Officials say the project will give visitors a chance to view it in isolation both as a religious work and great art.’
    • ‘He then threw his great energy and ability into the co-operative movement.’
    • ‘He may be in the twilight of his career, but he has great qualities and great skill.’
    • ‘In your opinion, what are the three qualities every great film should possess?’
    • ‘The winners had shown a great ability to be creative and inventive with their display table.’
    • ‘I rather feel like looking at great art, and I am certainly in the right place to do that.’
    • ‘Yet you hear a great piece of music and you feel good afterwards; you look at a great work of art and you feel good afterwards.’
    • ‘But great works of art and architecture transcend the motives of their founders.’
    • ‘The event is just dreadful and yet the way it's recorded is great art and it leads us into a kind of paradox.’
    • ‘This is a team with great ability who will do very well if they are able to focus and work hard as they did in this game.’
    • ‘There was a lot of great art to see in the city this year and the good news is some of it you can still catch over the holidays.’
    • ‘You are a man clearly of great ability and hitherto good character and I give you full credit for that and your plea of guilty.’
    • ‘They report to him of her beauty and great qualities, and he sends her a proposal of marriage.’
    • ‘A great critic has the ability to make the individual voice become a collective one.’
    prominent, eminent, pre-eminent, important, distinguished, august, illustrious, noble
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    1. 2.1A title denoting the most important person of the name.
      ‘Alexander the Great’
      • ‘And now, a Russian composer is about to fulfil his dream and stage as a musical the life story of Catherine the Great, one of Russia's best-known and most colourful historical figures.’
      • ‘It was a royal city from 893 to 972 and the reign of Tsar Simeon the Great was the heyday of its glory.’
      • ‘He seemed to be bred for the Navy, like his great Ancestor Piotr the Great.’
      • ‘It was on May 5th in the year of 1950 that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great was crowned.’
      • ‘Peter the Great was the Russian czar who transformed Russia from an isolated agricultural society into an Empire on a par with European powers.’
    2. 2.2informal Very good or satisfactory; excellent.
      ‘this has been another great year’
      ‘what a great guy’
      ‘wouldn't it be great to have him back?’
      [as exclamation] ‘“Great!” said Tom’
      • ‘He is a great guy to have meetings with since he usually suggests having them in one of the campus cafes.’
      • ‘This is slightly harder to do, but with practice it makes an excellent show-stopper and a great way to win a pig.’
      • ‘I can promise an evening of excellent food, fabulous entertainment and great guests.’
      • ‘He's a lovely guy and a great player, one of the most talented forwards around.’
      • ‘The staff always go out of their way for me, too, and the guys who own it are great blokes.’
      • ‘Both him and Jason, who was a great guy on and off the field, helped me a lot.’
      • ‘You're going to meet a great guy or girl, but still keep in touch with all of your friends.’
      • ‘Nick is a great guy and his project will have a lasting benefit to the business.’
      • ‘Yes of course it was a bad miss but what about the two great goals that he did score?’
      • ‘It will be a great night and an excellent venue for promoting Air Force ideals and heritage.’
      • ‘The hosts got off to a great start with a goal in the ninth minute.’
      • ‘I never knew his Dad, but if he was anything like his son I'm sure he was a truly great guy.’
      • ‘It is always great to help an excellent cause at the same time as enjoying an event, and this was to be no exception.’
      • ‘Kevin is a great guy but I'll think twice about inviting him to one of my parties.’
      • ‘Right now, she had a date with a great guy and she wasn't going to let her parents ruin it.’
      • ‘I would probably describe him as a scorer of great goals rather than a great goal scorer.’
      • ‘I've been lucky to work with three great players who are all great blokes.’
      • ‘It was a great goal but I felt we should have cleared our lines before that.’
      • ‘He has a great voice, really excellent, and he's captured the attention of many a busy pub with his singing.’
      • ‘Not only is he a great guy; he has never been slow to tell everyone how much I help him.’
      enjoyable, amusing, delightful, lovely
      expert, skilful, skilled, adept, adroit, accomplished, talented, fine, able, masterly, master, brilliant, virtuoso, magnificent, marvellous, outstanding, first class, first rate, elite, superb, proficient, very good
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    3. 2.3informal [predicative](of a person) very skilled or capable in a particular area.
      ‘a brilliant man, great at mathematics’
      • ‘Trying to patient with him when he was like this was never something she was great at.’
      • ‘He was great at going forward but not so useful in making it back to his berth.’
      • ‘I want to know what it and the consultants have got against Kevin when he is great at his job.’
      • ‘He is so great at what he does because he gets to know his clients on a very personal level.’
      • ‘She knows how all - consuming life becomes in this business and she is great at keeping my feet on the ground.’
      • ‘I'm terribly proud of her and I think she's great at her job, and being a mother.’
      • ‘He's great at covering that left side and doesn't mind being one for one against people.’
      • ‘She was great at reading other people, just not so perceptive when it came to herself.’
      • ‘I'm not great at going to get haircuts, and so have no formal hairdresser to call my own.’
      • ‘He's great at grills, barbecues and salads, but it's a shame he makes so much mess.’
      • ‘We believe we are great at feeling what is wrong or what we would like to work better and then fixing it.’
      • ‘She's great on dialogue, and she's got the ease of a confident and intuitive writer.’
      • ‘Friends says she is great at playing with her son, rolling on the floor with him and making him roar with laughter.’
      • ‘She wasn't great at dancing her waltz, but the judges were very kind to her.’
      • ‘She is great at helping out other patients and is always worried about others around her.’
      expert, skilful, skilled, adept, adroit, accomplished, talented, fine, able, masterly, master, brilliant, virtuoso, magnificent, marvellous, outstanding, first class, first rate, elite, superb, proficient, very good
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  • 3[attributive] Denoting the element of something that is the most important or the most worthy of consideration.

    ‘the great thing is the challenge’
    • ‘Though these kinds of equality are of great importance, they are not my subject.’
    • ‘The preservation of our natural and historic heritage is of very great importance to us as a nation.’
    • ‘The air of studied banality persists even during moments of great importance.’
    • ‘Meditation is of great importance and is central to the practice of the Eightfold Path.’
    • ‘They attach great importance, however, to a decision being reached at an early date.’
    • ‘For many it was not a glamorous life but the work they did was of great importance.’
    • ‘Winning the support of the unions was of great importance to the anti-war movement.’
    • ‘The police should give great importance to this issue as they do in the case of drunken drivers.’
    • ‘Results also matter more the further you progress and they are of great importance when you make the first team.’
    • ‘The room was next to the kitchen and was a place of great importance.’
    • ‘The dental care of the elderly, the sick and the debilitated is a matter of great importance.’
    • ‘Subsequently, the end result is not of great importance to me either way.’
    • ‘He attached great importance to his university lectures and he lectured almost entirely about his own work.’
    • ‘The Judge said that it was of very great importance that the Appellant had pleaded guilty.’
    • ‘Evidence is a generic notion of great importance to many practices and enquiries.’
    • ‘European agriculture is of great importance, and we must not overlook farmers and their families.’
    • ‘Having said all that I must add that the English language has been of great importance in my life.’
    • ‘He attached great significance to prime numbers, like seventeen, seven and one.’
    • ‘Development experts talk of the great importance of education in the poor countries.’
    • ‘However on further reflection I realised that this is a news story of great importance.’
    powerful, dominant, influential, strong, potent, formidable, redoubtable
    important, essential, crucial, critical, pivotal, vital, salient, significant, big
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    1. 3.1Used to indicate that someone or something particularly deserves a specified description.
      ‘I was a great fan of Hank's’
      • ‘Eileen is very quiet and Brian is wonderful, he has been a great friend of mine over the years and I am delighted for them.’
      • ‘As someone born in 1948 who has always been looked after by the NHS, I am a great fan of it.’
      • ‘It was a very emotional day for him he said as Kieran was a great friend of his.’
      • ‘Both are great fans of The Smiths, who are widely regarded as the most important band of the 1980s.’
      • ‘He had been a great follower/fan and friend for quiet a long time and it turned out to be the right decision.’
      • ‘Tears of joy were flowing as three great army friends were reunited after more than 50 years apart.’
      • ‘You may have gathered that I'm a great fan of exfoliation to keep skin looking youthful and fresh.’
      • ‘He was a great fan of American football, and rarely missed the Super Bowl.’
      • ‘As a great fan of porridge, I was looking forward to judging the offerings.’
      • ‘I'm a great fan of cryptic crosswords, even though they are tantalisingly difficult.’
      • ‘He was a man of great humour, wit and a great conversationalist and friend to all.’
      • ‘He was a great neighbour and friend to many and he will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.’
      • ‘Yesterday one of his team mates paid tribute to a man described as a fantastic athlete and great friend.’
      • ‘In the event, the two became great friends and the status quo was maintained.’
      • ‘They have remained great friends and there is no animosity between them.’
      • ‘Moira was a great neighbour to a friend in distress, an angel to all in their journey through life.’
      • ‘Another friend showed his great sense of humor in dealing with the obvious statements.’
      • ‘This kind of behavior is not acceptable and I can't say that I have ever been a great fan of the supermodel.’
      • ‘Your sense of humor might be a bit off, but you're a great friend and can always be counted on.’
      • ‘We became great friends over the years and I have frequently invited them to St Lucia.’
      enthusiastic, eager, keen, zealous, devoted, ardent, fervent, fanatical, passionate, dedicated, diligent, assiduous, intent, habitual, active, vehement, hearty, wholehearted, committed, warm
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  • 4[in combination] (in names of family relationships) denoting one degree further removed upward or downward.

    • ‘My great grandfather left the area and moved to one of the great Welsh mining valleys and began working for the Cooperative Society as a butcher.’
    • ‘In spare yet stirring prose, she recounts the life of her great-aunt Arizona, who "was born in a log cabin her papa built. .. in the Blue Ridge Mountains."’
    • ‘My great-grandmother's fabulous turkey stuffing recipe is revealed!’
    • ‘So it is quite possible that your great-great-grandfather could have been a well-paid manager for a fairground family for many years.’
    • ‘I found out on Sunday that my great Uncle Wilfrid had died.’


  • 1A great or distinguished person.

    ‘the Beatles, Bob Dylan, all the greats’
    • ‘I'm uplifted by good reggae, but also old music like jazz, and the greats like Nat King Cole.’
    • ‘In so doing, he revived hopes that he can be a worthy successor to Scottish greats Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan.’
    • ‘She has that effortless way with a song that only the greats have.’
    • ‘The respect given to me by every cricketer I've come across, some of them the real greats, means more to me than anything else.’
    • ‘Will they be the next generation of greats, or merely additions to forgotten celebrities of yesteryear?’
    • ‘Like the literary greats of our time, history and politics ignite the imagination of this writer too.’
    • ‘Already assured of his place in golfing history, his third Masters success puts him alongside some of game's greats.’
    • ‘We talk to Jimmy Magee about the footballing greats, his commentating heroes, and those pigeons of peace’
    • ‘Most jazz greats rose to fame in the 50s, and are well into their 70s today.’
    • ‘In America she worked with the greats of jazz, people like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.’
    • ‘She has never envied the success of country music's greats.’
    • ‘For almost its first century, junior football was where most Scottish football greats kick-started their career.’
    • ‘We need TV favourites, film heroes, sporting greats and even cartoon characters.’
    • ‘Still the legacy of the greats of the West Indian game weighs heavy.’
    • ‘What followed, however, was a spell of fast bowling of such fury and direction that it resembled some of the former West Indian greats.’
    • ‘The names may be less familiar than those of the Scottish greats in whose footsteps they follow.’
    • ‘Taking his cue from these greats he developed to become perhaps the busiest pianist on the London jazz scene for the past 40 years.’
    • ‘But take a closer look and what you find is a fascinating contest between a shooting star and one of the game's fading greats.’
    • ‘Like any boxer, even the greats like Ali, Frazier, Sugar Ray and Joe Louis, he has been physically battered in the ring.’
    • ‘He began his musical career as a jazz saxophonist, and committed himself to studying the be-bop greats.’
    celebrity, famous person, very important person, personality, name, big name, famous name, household name, star, superstar, celebutante, leading light, mogul, giant, great, master, king, guru
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    1. 1.1Great people collectively.
      ‘the lives of the great, including Churchill and Newton’
      • ‘MOVIE GREATS is where you'll re-acquaint yourself with the true Hollywood greats or discover them for the first time, with movies that became legendary or cult hits presented in entertaining festivals and specials.’
      • ‘The finals are the stage on which all the greats want to prove themselves.’
  • 2British informal

    another term for Literae Humaniores
    • ‘Never in the strict sense of the word a clever man - even by the academic standard (he took only a third in Mods. and a second in Greats, and worked hard for them, too) - he became an extraordinarily well-educated one.’
    • ‘He went on to graduate from Oxford in 1907 with a degree in the “greats”, Literae Humaniores.’
    • ‘The Oxford Greats degree is one of those many British institutions which need to be understood in historical rather than logical terms.’
    • ‘Born and brought up in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, he gained an open scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1948, reading Greats and taking a diploma in Classical Archaeology.’


  • Excellently; very well.

    ‘we played awful, they played great’
    • ‘We got along great when we were dating, living together, and even MUCH better once we got married.’
    • ‘We got along great and there was a hint of attraction.’
    • ‘There were a few mess ups, which was to be expected, but overall she did great.’
    • ‘They played great in all their matches.’
    • ‘I think he did great in this, it's a big film to walk into.’


Old English grēat big; related to Dutch groot and German gross.