- 1 [usually before noun] very large; much bigger than average in size or quantity A great crowd had gathered. People were arriving in great numbers. The great majority of (= most) people seem to agree with this view. He must have fallen from a great height. She lived to a great age.
- 2 [only before noun] (informal) used to emphasize an adjective of size or quality There was a great big pile of books on the table. He cut himself a great thick slice of cake.
- 3 much more than average in degree or quantity a matter of great importance The concert had been a great success. Her death was a great shock to us all. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today. Take great care of it. You've been a great help. We are all to a great extent the products of our culture. admired
- 4 extremely good in ability or quality and therefore admired by many people He has been described as the world's greatest violinist. Sherlock Holmes, the great detective Great art has the power to change lives. This represents a great achievement. good
- 5 (informal) very good or pleasant He's a great bloke. It's great to see you again. What a great goal! We had a great time in Madrid. ‘I'll pick you up at seven.’ ‘That'll be great, thanks.’ (ironic) Oh great, they left without us. (ironic) You've been a great help, I must say (= no help at all). Synonymsgreatcool fantastic fabulous terrific brilliant awesome epicThese are all informal words that describe somebody/something that is very good, pleasant, enjoyable, etc.great (informal) very good; giving a lot of pleasure:We had a great time in Madrid.cool (informal) used to show that you admire or approve of something, often because it is fashionable, attractive or different:I think their new song’s really cool.fantastic (informal) extremely good; giving a lot of pleasure:‘How was your holiday?’ ‘Fantastic!’fabulous (informal) extremely good:Jane’s a fabulous cook. (Fabulous is slightly more old-fashioned than the other words in this set.)terrific (informal) extremely good; wonderful:She’s doing a terrific job.brilliant (British English, informal), extremely good; wonderful:‘How was the show?’ ‘Brilliant!’awesome (informal, especially North American English) very good, impressive, or enjoyable:The show was just awesome.epic (informal) very good, impressive or enjoyable:The adventure and action are truly epic in scope.Patterns to have a(n) great/cool/fantastic/fabulous/terrific/brilliant/awesome time to look/sound great/cool/fantastic/fabulous/terrific/brilliant/awesome really great/cool/fantastic/fabulous/terrific/brilliant/awesome absolutely great/fantastic/fabulous/terrific/brilliant/awesome/epic important/impressive
- 6 [only before noun] important and impressive The wedding was a great occasion. As the great day approached, she grew more and more nervous. The great thing is to get it done quickly. One great advantage of this metal is that it doesn't rust. with influence
- 7 having high status or a lot of influence the great powers (= important and powerful countries) We can make this country great again. Alexander the Great in good health
- 8 in a very good state of physical or mental health She seemed in great spirits (= very cheerful). I feel great today. I don’t feel too great. Everyone's in great form. skilled
- 9[not usually before noun] great at (doing) something (informal) able to do something well She's great at chess. useful
- 10great for (doing) something (informal) very suitable or useful for something This gadget's great for opening jars. Try this cream—it's great for spots. for emphasis
- 11[only before noun] used when you are emphasizing a particular description of somebody/something We are great friends. I've never been a great reader (= I do not read much). She's a great talker, isn't she? I am a great admirer of your work. family
- 12great- added to words for family members to show a further stage in relationship my great-aunt (= my father’s or mother’s aunt) her great-grandson (= the grandson of her son or daughter) my great-great-grandfather (= the grandfather of my grandfather) See related entries: Relations larger animals/plants
- 13[only before noun] used in the names of animals or plants which are larger than similar kinds the great tit city name
- 14Greater used with the name of a city to describe an area that includes the centre of the city and a large area all round it Greater London Which Word?big / large / greatThese adjectives are frequently used with the following nouns: big man/house/car/boy/dog/smile/problem/surprise/question/difference large numbers/part/area/room/company/eyes/family/volume/population/problem great success/majority/interest/importance/difficulty/problem/pleasure/beauty/artist/surprise Large is more formal than big and should be used in writing unless it is in an informal style. It is not usually used to describe people, except to avoid saying ‘fat’. Great often suggests quality and not just size. Note also the phrases:a large amount of a large number of a large quantity of a great deal of in great detail a person of great age. Word Origin Old English grēat ‘big’, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch groot and German gross.Extra examples Don’t worry. It’s no great problem. He was a truly great man. That’s really great news! The food smells absolutely great. The play was a very great success. There’s a great big hole in this sleeve. You’re looking great. Marriage must suit you! ‘I’ll pick you up at seven.’ ‘That’d be great, thanks.’ (a) great success/majority/interest/importance/difficulty/problem/pleasure/beauty/surprise. Everyone’s in great form. He has been described as the world’s greatest violinist. He’s great with the kids. It’s great to see you again. Oh, great! They left without us! One great advantage of this metal is that it doesn’t rust. She seemed in great spirits. She’s great at chess. That was a great goal! The great majority of people seem to agree with this view. The great thing is to get it done quickly. This is a matter of great importance. We are all to a great extent the products of our culture. You’re a great cook—this is delicious! You’ve been a great help, I must say. a great deal of something a person of great age in great detail the great powersIdioms (informal) to be doing something quickly and successfully Work is going great guns now. to be better or more effective as a group than you would think just by looking at the individual members of the group to do something a lot; to enjoy something I've never been a great one for writing letters. You're a great one for quizzes, aren't you? (informal) to be not very good, efficient, suitable, etc. of all sizes or types all creatures great and small (humorous) used to refer to where a particular person is imagined to go when they die or a thing when it is no longer working, similar to the place they were connected with on earth Their pet rabbit had gone to the great rabbit hutch in the sky. (informal, humorous) used to say that you and another person must both be very clever because you have had the same idea or agree about something (saying) something large and successful often begins in a very small way
to put a lot of effort into doing something The couple went to great pains to keep their plans secret. to do something very carefully He always takes great pains with his lectures.