See also: gréât and great-

English

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Etymology

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From Middle English greet (great, large), from Old English grēat (big, thick, coarse, massive), from Proto-West Germanic *graut, from Proto-Germanic *grautaz (big in size, coarse, coarse grained), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰrewd-, *gʰer- (to rub, grind, remove).

Cognate with Scots great (coarse in grain or texture, thick, great), West Frisian grut (large, great), Dutch groot (large, stour), German groß (large), Old English grēot (earth, sand, grit). Related to grit. Doublet of gross.

Pronunciation

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(obsolete)

Adjective

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great (comparative greater, superlative greatest)

  1. Taking much space; large.
    • 1921, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, published 1925, →OCLC:
      [] the awfully hearty sort of Christmas cards that people do send to other people that they don't know at all well. You know. The kind that have mottoes like // Here's rattling good luck and roaring good cheer, / With lashings of food and great hogsheads of beer. []
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 7, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC:
      ‘Children crawled over each other like little grey worms in the gutters,’ he said. ‘The only red things about them were their buttocks and they were raw. Their faces looked as if snails had slimed on them and their mothers were like great sick beasts whose byres had never been cleared. []
    • 2013 July 19, Timothy Garton Ash, “Where Dr Pangloss meets Machiavelli”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 6, page 18:
      Hidden behind thickets of acronyms and gorse bushes of detail, a new great game is under way across the globe. Some call it geoeconomics, but it's geopolitics too. The current power play consists of an extraordinary range of countries simultaneously sitting down to negotiate big free trade and investment agreements.
    1. (of an abstract noun) Much, more than usual.
      great worry
      • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
        “We are engaged in a great work, a treatise on our river fortifications, perhaps? But since when did army officers afford the luxury of amanuenses in this simple republic?”
      • 1951 March, John W. Cline, “The Future of Medicine”, in Northwest Medicine, volume 50, number 3, Portland, Ore.: Northwest Medical Publishing Association, page 165:
        The first half of this century has been referred to as the golden age of medicine. To me it seems more probable that we are on the threshold of a much greater age.
    2. (informal, British) Intensifying a word or expression, used in mild oaths.
      a dirty great smack in the face
      Great Scott!
  2. (informal) Very good; excellent; wonderful; fantastic. [from 1848]
    Dinner was great.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter V, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      He was thinking; but the glory of the song, the swell from the great organ, the clustered lights, [], the height and vastness of this noble fane, its antiquity and its strength—all these things seemed to have their part as causes of the thrilling emotion that accompanied his thoughts.
  3. Important, consequential.
    a great dilemma
    a great decision
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Daniel 2:48:
      So the King made Daniel a great man […]
    • 2008, George McCandless, The ABCs of RBCs, Harvard University Press, page 2:
      The methods for finding parameters that are commonly used in RBC models include using coefficients that come from microeconomic studies for parameters like the time discount factor, rental income over total income for the parameters of a Cobb-Douglas production function, and adjusting parameters so that stationary state value values approach those of the great ratios such as consumption over income and capital over income.
  4. (qualifying nouns of family relationship) Involving more generations than the qualified word implies — as many extra generations as repetitions of the word great (from 1510s). [see Derived terms]
    great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather
  5. (obsolete, postpositive, followed by 'with') Pregnant; large with young; full of.
    great with child
    great with hope
  6. (obsolete, except with 'friend' and similar words such as 'mate', 'buddy') Intimate; familiar.
  7. (applied to actions, thoughts and feelings) Arising from or possessing idealism; admirable; commanding; illustrious; eminent.
    a great deed
    a great nature
    a great history
  8. Impressive or striking.
    a great show of wealth
  9. Much in use; favoured.
    Poetry was a great convention of the Romantic era.
  10. (applied to persons) Of much talent or achievements.
    a great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, writer etc.
  11. Doing or exemplifying (a characteristic or pursuit) on a large scale; active or enthusiastic.
    What a great buffoon!
    He's not a great one for reading.
    a great walker

Usage notes

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Moderating adverbs such as fairly, somewhat, etc. tend not to be used with great. Some intensifiers can be used with some senses of great; for example, a very great amount, a very great man, the party was really great, though not *the party was very great.

Synonyms

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Antonyms

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  • (antonym(s) of very big, large scale): tiny
  • (antonym(s) of uncommonly gifted): mediocre, ordinary

Derived terms

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Place names including "Great"

Descendants

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  • Welsh: grêt

Translations

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Interjection

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great

  1. Expression of gladness and content about something.
    Great! Thanks for the wonderful work.
  2. sarcastic inversion thereof.
    Oh, great! I just dumped all 500 sheets of the manuscript all over and now I have to put them back in order.

Translations

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Noun

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great (plural greats)

  1. A person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim.
    Newton and Einstein are two of the greats of the history of science.
    • 2019 May 1, Daniel Taylor, The Guardian[2]:
      Sadio Mané wasted a glorious chance in the first half and, late on, Mohamed Salah turned his shot against a post after a goal-line clearance had spun his way. That, in a nutshell, perhaps sums up the difference between Messi and the players on the next rung below – the ones who can be described as great footballers without necessarily being football greats.
  2. (music) The main division in a pipe organ, usually the loudest division.
  3. (in combinations such as "two-greats", "three-greats" etc.) An instance of the word "great" signifying an additional generation in phrases expressing family relationships.
    My three-greats grandmother.

Antonyms

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  • (antonym(s) of person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim): mediocre

Translations

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Adverb

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great (not comparable)

  1. (informal) Very well (in a very satisfactory manner).
    Those mechanical colored pencils work great because they don't have to be sharpened.

Translations

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References

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  1. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volumes I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 11.75, page 339.
  2. 2.0 2.1 David Crystal, The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation, 2016

Anagrams

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Old English

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Etymology

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From Proto-West Germanic *graut, from Proto-Germanic *grautaz (big in size, coarse, coarse grained), from *gʰer- (to rub, grind, remove).

Cognate with Old Saxon grōt (large, thick, coarse, stour), Old High German grōz (large, thick, coarse), Old English grot (particle). More at groat.

Pronunciation

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Adjective

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grēat (comparative grīetra, superlative grīetest)

  1. great, massive
  2. tall
  3. thick; stout
  4. coarse

Declension

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Derived terms

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Descendants

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Scots

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Alternative forms

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Etymology

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From Middle English grete, from Old English grēat, from Proto-West Germanic *graut, from Proto-Germanic *grautaz.

Pronunciation

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  • IPA(key): [ɡrɛt], [ɡrɪt]
  • (North Northern Scots) IPA(key): [ɡrit]

Adjective

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great (comparative greater, superlative greatest)

  1. great
  2. coarse (in grain or texture)
  3. thick, bulky, roomy (of things)
  4. big, stout (of people)
  5. swollen with rain, in flood (of a river)
  6. high, stormy (of the sea)
  7. intimate, friendly