Definition of minor in US English:



  • 1Lesser in importance, seriousness, or significance.

    ‘minor alterations’
    • ‘Meetings with the police and the council ensure we have a drinks licence, which is of minor importance in these parts you understand.’
    • ‘Other minor alterations also played an important role.’
    • ‘It was not easy to find people to mend your shoes, repair your broken zipper or anything else that might be of minor importance but that is necessary for daily life.’
    • ‘Another, about 20 percent of patients, will develop minor depression.’
    • ‘People with high levels of stress are also more prone to develop colds and other minor illnesses.’
    • ‘In that time 200 serious injuries and 1,000 minor injuries have been avoided.’
    • ‘In addition, if China removes its missiles but does not destroy them, this would only be of minor military significance.’
    • ‘The health plan will also see a radical overhaul of accident and emergency wards, which will include a separation of serious and minor cases.’
    • ‘Several minor incidents of little significance are included.’
    • ‘Crime on the towpaths includes everything from minor thefts to serious assaults and even murder, but the amount of crime reported is relatively low.’
    • ‘Officers have now recommended approval for the Bell Autoelectrics scheme after a number of minor design alterations were made to the proposed building.’
    • ‘Against this kind of background, the Northern Ireland situation is of much more minor importance.’
    • ‘Graphics have been sharpened slightly, but the racing courses are the same, and with minor exceptions, so are the vehicles.’
    • ‘Other than those minor details, this summer was going to be spent with large intervals of sleep and bumming around.’
    • ‘Paramedics treated Mr Reid, who was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital suffering nothing more serious than minor cuts and bruises.’
    • ‘Otherwise, subject to some minor problems, the recipe should have worked.’
    • ‘A large number reported injuries while drinking, with most fairly minor but others more serious.’
    • ‘The school is extremely strict over these issues and many pupils frequently find themselves in serious trouble over minor breaches.’
    • ‘The ombudsman's powers of investigation should make a clear distinction between complaints of a serious and minor nature, the HRC argues.’
    • ‘Rehabilitation is, if society is not to nurture a permanent and growing criminal class, and turn those who have committed minor crimes into more serious offenders.’
    slight, small
    little known, unknown, lesser
    View synonyms
  • 2Music
    (of a scale) having intervals of a semitone between the second and third degrees, and (usually) the fifth and sixth, and the seventh and eighth.

    Contrasted with major
    • ‘Yet by bar 3, where the two basic scale-motifs are concatenated to form five notes of an A minor scale, the tonality is in doubt.’
    • ‘The fingering chart provided on page 111 fails to identify the minor scale form being illustrated.’
    1. 2.1 (of an interval) characteristic of a minor scale and less by a semitone than the equivalent major interval.
      Compare with diminished
      • ‘Diminished intervals are created when a perfect or minor interval is made one half step smaller and the interval number is not changed.’
      • ‘If a major interval is made a half step smaller without changing its numerical name, it becomes a minor interval.’
    2. 2.2usually postpositive (of a key or mode) based on a minor scale and tending to produce a sad or pensive effect.
      ‘Concerto in A minor’
      • ‘The resultant Concerto in B minor for cello and orchestra Op 104 was Dvorák's final large scale orchestral score.’
      • ‘The F minor has a Brahmsian intensity and characteristic polyrhythm in the Scherzo and finale.’
      • ‘Some of that composer's most deeply felt works are in minor keys.’
      • ‘The Piano Trio in F minor is a gloriously sunny work that is comparable to similar works by Arensky and Tchaikovsky.’
      • ‘Her debut as a soloist was at the age of 11, playing the famous Mendelssohn Concerto in E minor.’
      • ‘It began as the Andante religioso slow movement for an early String Quartet in E minor.’
      • ‘The program includes two cello concertos and the Symphony in D minor by Cesar Franck.’
      • ‘Since then there has been a Piano Concerto in C minor, theme music for any situation requiring a sufficiently heady mixture of passion and gloom.’
      • ‘All three movements use fairly melodic material, all in minor keys.’
      • ‘The return of the minor mode of the first aria at the conclusion provides dramatic resolution to the work where the poet's deceived heart is inflected with irony.’
      • ‘The touching ‘Don't Let Her Know She's An Angel’ combines Wilson's epic sentimentality with soft minor keys.’
      • ‘I think it's just that I like to compose in minor keys.’
      • ‘Studies have proven that this system is clearly advantageous during the early stages of learning to sing in minor keys.’
  • 3Logic
    (of a term) occurring as the subject of the conclusion of a categorical syllogism.

    • ‘where P, S, and M are the major, minor, and middle terms of the syllogism.’
    1. 3.1 (of a premise) containing the minor term in a categorical syllogism.
      • ‘But as with all syllogisms, the validity hinges on the major and minor premises.’
      • ‘In most cases, it identifies the conclusion that is to be accepted and then goes on to identify what it to be argued for (the minor premise).’
      • ‘You have to establish a major premise and a minor premise.’
      • ‘Notice that the minor premise of the syllogism above is only marginally contingent upon historical analysis.’
      • ‘You have to make out a major premise in this case and there is also a question as to even if you make out your major premise whether or not the minor premise is made out, given the various facts to which I referred you.’


  • 1A person under the age of full legal responsibility.

    • ‘The committee was concerned about removing existing legal protections for minors if they enter into a de facto relationship.’
    • ‘Young people are especially vulnerable to psychiatric abuse and involuntary incarceration because as minors their legal rights are limited.’
    • ‘In fact, studies show that minors can fairly routinely purchase alcohol from traditional bricks-and-mortar sellers.’
    • ‘These same children can, however, suffer the death penalty, the United States being the only industrialized nation that sentences minors to death.’
    • ‘In the case of a spouse with children, whether minors or adults, the surviving spouse has a legal entitlement to one-third of the deceased's estate.’
    • ‘The discussion centered around the issue of how easy it was for teenagers to obtain cigarettes even though it is illegal to sell cigarettes to minors.’
    • ‘Yet, four centuries on, we are told that smoking among minors, especially young girls, is on the increase.’
    • ‘These aren't adult private citizens; they are minors who are being educated in government-run schools.’
    • ‘I happen to have four children that are minors, in that age frame.’
    • ‘The casinos would be subject to strict regulation and would be required to block minors and compulsive gamblers.’
    • ‘The laws vary from state to state, but in almost every state it's not legal for minors to buy cigarettes.’
    • ‘When he died in 1873, his children were still minors, so his property was administered by the Court of Wards.’
    • ‘In this document property was transferred to the wife of the deceased, and a guardian was named for children who were minors.’
    • ‘The legal validity of any minor's marriage continues to be wholly beyond its scope.’
    • ‘In the past, only specially qualified judges conducted legal proceedings against minors.’
    • ‘The report informs that many of these women caught in the raid were girls, minors.’
    • ‘It may be now legal for minors to donate to campaigns, but I believe there is a requirement that the donors' names over a minimum amount be reported, is there not?’
    • ‘Under it, women are treated as legal minors and denied legal autonomy to conclude their own marriage contracts.’
    • ‘A child is a minor until the age of legal majority, which is the twelfth birthday for a girl and the thirteenth for a boy.’
    • ‘Anytime a minor opens a bank account, a parent is legally responsible for it.’
    child, infant, youth
    View synonyms
  • 2Music
    A minor key, interval, or scale.

    • ‘Themes initially stated in the major mode recur more strongly in the minor.’
    • ‘Yet he will conjure a few bars in the minor where possible and darken textures by shunting to the subdominant.’
    • ‘Each major key is followed by its parallel minor.’
    1. 2.1MinorBell-ringing A system of change-ringing using six bells.
      • ‘We ring whatever people ask for including Stedman Doubles, Crayford Minor and Norwich Surprise Minor.’
      • ‘Other terms for even numbers of bells include Minor (6 bells), Major (8 bells), Royal (10 bells) and Maximus (12 bells).’
  • 3the minorsNorth American The minor leagues in a particular professional sport, especially baseball.

    ‘he's been pitching in the minors for six years’
    • ‘A first baseman in the minors, Sexson progressed quickly through the Indians' minor league system.’
    • ‘Young played short in the minors, but his major league experience at the position before this season consisted of 42 innings.’
    • ‘In addition to 3,771 major league hits, Aaron accumulated 324 in the minors for a pro total of 4,095.’
    • ‘After his rookie campaign, Wise spent the following year in the minors, before returning to the big leagues for good in 1966.’
    • ‘A slump ensued, however, necessitating a return trip to the minors in June before another call-up during which he truly established himself as a probable big league standout.’
    • ‘From 1988 through 1991, Schilling had split time between the minors and the major leagues in each of those seasons.’
    • ‘He was able to get used to the pressure as a closer in college and the minors instead of training for the job as a starter.’
    • ‘If Patterson needs a full year in the minors, the Cubs have Damon Buford as an insurance policy.’
    • ‘You'll never find perfect baseball in the minors, but stories from Miguel Cabrera to Bucky Jacobsen are enough for me.’
    • ‘He believes any of the three could pitch in the majors this season, although he'd prefer they spend a full season in the minors.’
    • ‘Can you tell me the hitter and pitcher who played the longest in the minors without ever appearing in a major league game?’
    • ‘He's the top power-hitting first baseman in the minors and the only legitimate 50-home-run threat on this list.’
    • ‘He started in the minors in 2001 before making his way back to the majors, finishing last season with a 5-3 record and 3.16 ERA.’
    • ‘He has yet to display the running game he developed in the minors, and his power is sporadic.’
    • ‘There aren't many teams with more pitching depth in the minors, but this bullpen is terrible.’
    • ‘Bragan's managerial ingenuity in confronting umpires was almost unlimited, both in the major leagues and the minors.’
    • ‘It wasn't long ago that the Giants had the best Major League ready pitching prospect depth in the minors.’
    • ‘He mostly was a second baseman in the minors but has become solid at shortstop and third base.’
    • ‘He's a rookie, spent a year in the minors after pitching for Stanford.’
    • ‘And after just over a year in the minors, he made his major league debut on June 25, 1983.’
  • 4North American A college student's subsidiary subject or area of concentration.

    ‘a minor in American Indian studies’
    • ‘Many students also successfully complete a minor in African American studies.’
    • ‘Another related area is what courses should be required for the minor.’
    • ‘Currently, only minors are offered in Education.’
    • ‘The course is not required for any academic major or minor.’
    • ‘Hopefully the test wouldn't be too hard, but it was an advanced literature class for my minor, so I had no idea what to expect.’
    • ‘I did well in Art History, my minor; I had teachers and courses that rewarded passionate essays full of doubleplus bellyfeel.’
    • ‘The theme school concept could easily develop into a collegiate minor.’
    • ‘Elective courses in the minor must be approved by the student's academic advisor and the Undergraduate Coordinator of the minor.’
    • ‘He chose a philosophy minor, and several courses in classics as electives.’
    • ‘She graduated from Princeton University with a major in biology and minors in Latin American studies and science/human affairs.’
    • ‘He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries management with a minor in Native American studies at the University of Idaho.’
    • ‘This minor is designed for students majoring in another natural science who also may teach chemistry in secondary schools.’
    • ‘I have a bachelor's degree in education with an art minor from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.’
    • ‘The undergraduate program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity has more than 90 student majors and minors.’
    • ‘Nor does this word occur in the discussion of requirements and electives for the undergraduate major or minor.’
    • ‘In 1993 she graduated with a major in social science and minors in women's studies and business administration.’
    • ‘Hammond holds a BSEE in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics from Bradley University.’
    • ‘My political science minor might have come from a third-tier land grant university but I'm not even that dumb.’
    • ‘He started college with the intent of majoring in soil science, with minors in horticulture and arboriculture.’
    • ‘While at Drake, she did, however, get serious about completing her bachelor's degree and added a business minor.’
  • 5Logic
    A minor term or premise.

    • ‘I prove the minor, because your father is known by you and your father is the one approaching; hence, the one approaching is known by you.’
    • ‘This is called the fallacy of the illicit minor.’
  • 6Bridge

    short for minor suit
    • ‘If you don't have a 5-card major, open your longest minor.’
    • ‘After a transfer into a minor, the opener bids the shown minor if he has at least high-honor-third in the suit.’


[no object]minor in
North American
  • Study or qualify in as a subsidiary subject at college or university.

    • ‘I'm majoring in architecture, and I'm minoring in Latin American studies.’
    • ‘Koehler has provided outstanding leadership in presenting graduate courses to students majoring and minoring in statistics.’
    • ‘Alice went to the Santa Fe State University and majored in communication and minored in Spanish.’
    • ‘Mrs. Gallagher asked who minored in literature at college.’
    • ‘I too, am Native American of the Cherokee tribe and I minored in Native American studies in college.’
    • ‘I majored in Political Science and minored in Journalism and left college before getting a degree in either.’
    • ‘She attended Southern University in Louisiana and graduated with a BA, majoring in English and minoring in social studies.’
    • ‘I ended up attending Western Illinois University, majoring in Music Education and minoring in English Literature’
    • ‘I went to college with the idea of majoring in art and minoring in English.’
    • ‘As a young brother, I majored in biology and minored in religious studies at St. Mary's College, Moraga, California.’
    • ‘For Alisa Lewis, a junior from East St. Louis, Ill., who is majoring in architectural engineering and minoring in math, the HAWK Link students and staff have become like extended family.’
    • ‘I did not have to major or minor in Black studies to learn about my history.’
    • ‘Pondexter is majoring in African studies and minoring in sociology.’
    • ‘Because of her interest in nature, including her love of plant life, she majored in plant genetics and minored in fine art at the University of California in Berkeley.’
    • ‘Garett R. Nadrich is a graduate of Adelphi University, where he majored in Communications and minored in African-American History.’
    • ‘Students who minor in education may qualify as certified teachers.’
    • ‘‘It was just something that was very personal to me,’ says Johnson, who's double-majoring in pre-med and history and minoring in Jewish studies.’
    • ‘I was going to major in psychology and minor in women's studies.’
    • ‘Dr. Lisle graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy, and minored in mathematics.’
    • ‘It is also problematic when administrators delay approval for degree programs in ethnic studies even when a solid faculty is in place and many students indicate interest in majoring or minoring in the field.’


  • in a minor key

    • (especially of a literary work) understated.

      • ‘In crucial respects, contemporary divisions among races or ethnicities, and between genders, merely replay in a minor key the historically antecedent and more violent ones fought among religions and creeds.’
      • ‘It's an expert comedy by a major director, in a minor key.’
      • ‘If ever a film was composed in a minor key, it is this beautiful and sad movie from the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which simply floats like a helium balloon above the middling mainstreamers that have rolled up this week.’
      • ‘Described in the press notes as ‘a love story in a minor key,’ this will certainly strike a chord with fans of character drama.’
      • ‘It is a minor film in a minor key, but it is helped immeasurably by one thing - the role of Mina is played by Carole Bouquet.’
      • ‘The real trouble is a plot line from Middle Earth via the New Age that features our questing hero Tommy Matisse (the artist, get it?), well played in a minor key by Dan Spielman as a star composer at the Royal Academy of Music.’
      • ‘Thus does Majid Majidi begin his film in a minor key, as it were, giving us the aural experience of a blind person before substituting a visual one for all those who can see.’
      • ‘This text is less trivial than it appears, and all Clair's ambivalence is revealed in a minor key.’
      • ‘Like all artists who have found success in a minor key, Brian wanted to make an ambitious, large-scale, neoclassical work - a colossus.’
      • ‘The verse reminiscences are mildly amusing, and display Chaudhuri's ability to select the truly telling detail from the detritus of memory, but they are strictly in a minor key.’


Middle English: from Latin, ‘smaller, less’; related to minuere ‘lessen’. The term originally denoted a Franciscan friar, suggested by the Latin name Fratres Minores ( ‘Lesser Brethren’), chosen by St Francis for the order.