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big name (plural big names)

  1. (idiomatic) A widely-known reputation, especially one that is favorable.
    • 1909, P. G. Wodehouse, chapter 2, in The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England:
      Solly had carried on the old business, and was making a big name for himself.
    • 1915, Zane Grey The Lone Star Ranger, ch. 11:
      He made a big name in the war. And since he's been in the ranger service he's done wonders.
    • 2013 Jan. 29, Benjamin Hoffman, "At Media Day, Spotlight on Head Injuries Grows," New York Times (retrieved 10 Oct 2013):
      Do you want to go out there and do the right things or do you want to make that big hit to gain a big name?
  2. (idiomatic) A prominent individual, especially one who is favorably regarded.
    • 1917, Sherwood Anderson, chapter 4, in Marching Men:
      "You don't want me, you want a big name. They're all set to hang you over there. . . . It's a job for the biggest and best criminal lawyer in town."
    • 1949 April 10, Owen Lattimore, "Big Problem is to Make UN Work, Too," Sunday Herald (Connecticut USA), p. 12 (retrieved 10 Oct 2013):
      With the big names of Europe assembled in Washington for the signing of the Atlantic Pact, the pact itself and its implications continue to be the world's biggest story.
    • 2004 Mach 26, Richard Corliss, "That Old Feeling at 100," Time (retrieved 10 Oct 2013):
      [J]ust before Christmas 1983 . . . our editors were alerted that the surrealist painter Joan Miro had died. (A big name almost always dies around Christmas.)



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