From Middle English greet (“great, large”), from Old English grēat (“big, thick, coarse, massive”), 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.
- Relatively large in scale, size, extent, number (i.e. having many parts or members) or duration (i.e. relatively long); very big.
- A great storm is approaching our shores.
- a great assembly
- a great wait
- 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
- “[…] 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:
- ‘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.
- Of larger size or more importance than others of its kind.
- the great auk
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Daniel 2:48:
- So the King made Daniel a great man […]
- c. 1597, William Shakespeare, “The Merry VViues of VVindsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene iv]:
- He doth object I am too great of birth.
- (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
- (obsolete, postpositive, followed by 'with') Pregnant; large with young; full of.
- great with child
- great with hope
- (obsolete, except with 'friend' and similar words such as 'mate','buddy') Intimate; familiar.
- Extreme or more than usual.
- great worry
- Of significant importance or consequence; important.
- a great decision
- 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0088:
- “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?”
- (applied to actions, thoughts and feelings) Arising from or possessing idealism; admirable; superior; commanding; heroic; illustrious; eminent.
- a great deed
- a great nature
- a great history
- Impressive or striking.
- a great show of wealth
- Much in use; favoured.
- Poetry was a great convention of the Romantic era.
- (applied to persons) Endowed with extraordinary powers; of exceptional talents or achievements; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; remarkable; strong; powerful; mighty; noble.
- a great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, writer etc.
- Title referring to an important leader.
- Alexander the Great
- 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
- (often followed by 'at') Skilful or adroit.
- a great carpenter
- You are great at singing.
- (informal) Very good; excellent; wonderful; fantastic (from 1848).
- Dinner was great.
- 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 5, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
- 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.
- (informal, Britain) Intensifying a word or expression, used in mild oaths.
- a dirty great smack in the face
- Great Scott!
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.
- great aunt
- Great Aycliffe
- Great Ayton
- Great Barrier Island
- Great Barrier Reef
- Great Bedwyn
- Great Bend
- Great Bentley
- great big
- Great Bookham
- Great Bourton
- Great Bridgeford
- Great Britain
- great chamber
- Great Chart
- Great Chesterford
- Great Dane
- Great Driffield
- Great Elm
- Great Falls
- Great Feasts
- Great Glen
- great granddaughter, great-granddaughter
- great grandfather, great-grandfather
- great grandmother, great-grandmother
- great grandson, great-grandson
- great hall
- Great Heck
- Great Horton
- Great Hours
- Great Longstone
- Great Malvern
- Great Missenden
- Great Munden
- great nephew
- great niece
- Great North Road
- Great Orme
- Great Paxton
- Great Ponton
- Great Pox
- great room
- Great Sankey
- Great Shefford
- great uncle
- Great Wall of China
- great white shark
- Great Witchingham
- Great Yarmouth
- Great Yeldham
- just great
- → Welsh: grêt
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- Expression of gladness and content about something.
- Great! Thanks for the wonderful work.
- 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.
great (plural greats)
- A person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim.
- Newton and Einstein are two of the greats of the history of science.
- 2019, Daniel Taylor, Lionel Messi magic puts Barcelona in command of semi-final with Liverpool (in The Guardian, 1 May 2019)
- 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.
- (music) The main division in a pipe organ, usually the loudest division.
- (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.
- (person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim): mediocre
great (not comparable)
- (informal) Very well (in a very satisfactory manner).
- Those mechanical colored pencils work great because they don't have to be sharpened.
From Proto-Germanic *grautaz (“big in size, coarse, coarse grained”), from Proto-Indo-European *ghrewə- (“to fell, put down, fall in”). Cognate with Old Saxon grōt (“large, thick, coarse, stour”), Old High German grōz (“large, thick, coarse”), Old English grot (“particle”). More at groat.