\ˈbig \
bigger; biggest

Definition of big 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a obsolete : of great strength Sir Launcelot was big and strong again.— Thomas Malory

b : of great force a big storm

2a : large or great in dimensions, bulk, or extent a big house also : large or great in quantity, number, or amount a big fleet

b : operating on a large scale big government

c of a letter : capital sense 1

3a : pregnant especially : nearly ready to give birth big with child

b : full to bursting : swelling big with rage

c of the voice : full and resonant

4a : chief, preeminent the big issue of the campaign

b : outstandingly worthy or able a truly big man

c : of great importance or significance the big moment

d : imposing, pretentious using big words also : marked by or given to boasting big talk

e : magnanimous, generous was big about it

5 informal : more advanced in age : older my big brother : more mature His teachers all told me he was excited about riding the bus, feeling like a big boy now.— Laurie Frey

6a : filled with or characterized by enthusiasm and interest I'm a big fan of soy foods but urge you to choose them wisely.— Andrew Weil : active and enthusiastic My mother is a big baker, and so was my grandmother …— Melissa Parks I'm not a big shopper, so for me to actually like a store is really saying something.— Matt Cameron

b : expressed in an enthusiastic or unrestrained way : hearty greeted me with a big hug

7 : popular soft drinks are very big in Mexico— Russ Leadabrand

8 : full-bodied and flavorful used of wine

big on

: strongly favoring or liking also : noted for she is big on blushing — Arnold Hano



Definition of big (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a loud or declamatory manner also : in a boasting manner talk big

2a : to a large amount or extent won big

b : on a large scale think big

3 : hard hits her forehand big



Definition of big (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : an individual or organization of outstanding importance or power especially : major league usually used in plural playing in the bigs

2 basketball, informal : a big player : a center or forward whose large size and strength are used to control play near the basket But, the problem is that you MUST have guards. You can't play five bigs.— Martin Manley

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Other Words from big


bigly adverb
bigness noun

Examples of big in a Sentence


a big glass of soda She moved to a bigger city. the biggest city in the state He led a big group through the museum. She works for a big company. He organized a big advertising campaign. We had a big fund-raiser for the school.


He talks big about his plans, but he hasn't done much yet.


with that new promotion he's now one of the bigs in the company when a candidate is running for president, he's playing in the bigs and cannot afford to make major mistakes
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

If Trump remains this unpopular (obviously a big if), there are lots of candidates who'd stand a good chance of beating him. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Democrats need some 2020 Senate candidates," 6 Dec. 2018 Hosted by Aidy Bryant at Spring Studios in New York City, Glamour's 2018 Women of the Year Awards is set to be our biggest, most inspiring yet. Glamour, "Follow Glamour's 2018 Women of the Year Awards Live," 12 Nov. 2018 The big question is whether Keyforge is likely to find an audience. Owen Duffy, Ars Technica, "Essen 2018: The best board games from the biggest board game con," 3 Nov. 2018 Apple is betting big that people will still want them. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Apple's New Macs Are the Ones You've Been Waiting on For Years," 30 Oct. 2018 Superfine on Front Street has great food and drinks and are big supporters of ours. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "This Revival of Oklahoma! Is the Hottest Ticket in New York City," 30 Oct. 2018 Some people go big, but this month, Discover is going small. Discover Magazine, "Table of Contents Nov 2018," 27 Oct. 2018 Right now, our hearts are big and raw and sore from the absence of him, and my memories block out the reality of most days bringing choking sobs every night. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Radio Host Delilah Opens Up About Losing Her Teenage Son to Suicide In New Memoir," 22 Oct. 2018 There’s a general frustration that, in the 21st century, this big and powerful country cannot pull away from its most regressive roots — and its hardest prejudices and its destructive tribalism — to solve our toughest problems. Dan Rodricks,, "Where have you gone, Mister Rogers?," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, HoustonTexas knows how to go big: This 38-floor hotel has seven restaurants, a three-story glass lobby, and 250 rooms with chandeliers in their marble bathrooms. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hotel Report: Where Our Editors Are Staying Now," 17 Oct. 2018 Those four big busy drugstores, last year, according to the DEA wrote 1.3 million prescriptions, 1.3 million pills, opioid pills were prescribed by those four drugstores in that tiny town of Celina, Tennessee. Fox News, "The life and legacy of Sen. John McCain," 28 Aug. 2018 To adapt, Riggio said that Barnes & Noble would close big, underperforming stores and open smaller ones in more highly trafficked areas. Tiffany Hsu, The Seattle Times, "Barnes & Noble struggles to survive; founder is confident of turnaround," 28 Aug. 2018 The medical device sector did not take as big a hit as anticipated from the Trump Administration's 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods that went into effect Friday, part of President Trump's plan to equalize global trade polices. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Pacemakers, ultrasound gear costs could rise from China trade tariffs," 7 July 2018 Syrkin came up big all season, with the Rose Bowl Aquatics product winning the 50 free (21:59) and 100 butterfly (51.31) in the team’s matchup at defending two-time Rio Hondo League champion San Marino on April 5. Andrew J. Campa,, "All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year: Syrkin uses setback to fuel monster season," 14 June 2018 Smith was the No. 2 pitcher for the Eagles this year but came up big in the clutch several times in the postseason. James Weber,, "Notre Dame grad Haylee Smith helps University of Southern Indiana to national title," 22 June 2018 Fowler came up big in the Jaguars’ playoff run last season, sacking Patriots quarterback Tom Brady twice. Brad Biggs,, "Bears Q&A: Could Bears trade for Jaguars' Dante Fowler? Will any Bears make the Pro Bowl this year?," 17 May 2018 Being big early thus constitutes a first-mover advantage. The Economist, "Netflix is moving television beyond time-slots and national markets," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Journal's report claims the Galaxy S10 launch should happen sometime in February, and instead of the usual two smartphone models (one big, one small), Samsung will launch three variants of the Galaxy S10 at once. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Samsung reportedly planning five flagship phone models for early 2019," 20 Nov. 2018 Summer League can be a difficult environment for bigs to produce in general, given the mishmash nature of rosters that skew young. Jeremy Woo,, "Rookie Report Cards: The Most Noteworthy Summer League Showings," 11 July 2018 This process is scary and exciting all mixed into one big, crazy ball of emotion. Fresh U, Teen Vogue, "I Applied to 25 Colleges — Here's What I Learned," 25 Sep. 2018 The S9 Plus has the same camera system; same processor; a nearly as-big, just as gorgeous display; and basically the same software experience. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: more, more, more," 17 Aug. 2018 The Hawks inherit it while betting big on Young, but prop themselves up regardless with a potential second lottery pick in 2019. Jeremy Woo,, "Explaining the Biggest Surprises of the 2018 NBA Draft," 22 June 2018 Charbonnet, at 6-feet-2, 215 pounds, might seem like a prototypical big back. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football getting 'thunder and lightning' with running backs," 8 July 2018 Xavier bigs Kerem Kanter, a graduate transfer, and Sean O'Mara, a senior, also had big nights in a game where Tyrique Jones was unavailable due to a left-arm injury. Patrick Brennan,, "No. 5 Xavier basketball prevails in OT vs. Butler, 98-93," 6 Feb. 2018 GREG MONROE Monroe has found his niche: generating efficient offense for around 20 minutes a night against second-line bigs too small or too green to stop him. Rob Mahoney,, "The Best Players Left in NBA Free Agency," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'big.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of big


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1833, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for big


Middle English, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect bugge important man


see big entry 1


see big entry 1

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Statistics for big

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for big

The first known use of big was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for big



English Language Learners Definition of big

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: large in size

: large in number or amount

: involving or including many people, things, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of big (Entry 2 of 2)

: in a big way

: in a way that is meant to impress people


\ˈbig \
bigger; biggest

Kids Definition of big

1 : large in size a big house a big man

2 : large in number or amount a big group

3 : of great importance big news

4 : of great strength or force a big storm

Other Words from big

bigness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on big

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with big

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for big

Spanish Central: Translation of big

Nglish: Translation of big for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of big for Arabic Speakers

Comments on big

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living or existing for a long time

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