ma·​jor | \ ˈmā-jər How to pronounce major (audio) \

Definition of major

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : greater in dignity, rank, importance, or interest one of the major poets
2 : greater in number, quantity, or extent the major part of his work
3 : of full legal age major children
4a : notable or conspicuous in effect or scope : considerable a major improvement
b : prominent or significant in size, amount, or degree earned some major cash
5 : involving grave risk : serious a major illness
6 : of or relating to a subject of academic study chosen as a field of specialization The student's major field is geology.
7a : having half steps between the third and fourth and the seventh and eighth degrees major scale
b : based on a major scale major key
c : equivalent to the distance between the keynote and another tone (except the fourth and fifth) of a major scale major third
d : having a major third above the root major triad



Definition of major (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : a person who has attained majority
2a : one that is superior in rank, importance, size, or performance economic power of the oil majors
b : a major musical interval, scale, key, or mode
3 : a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps ranking above a captain and below a lieutenant colonel
4a : an academic subject chosen as a field of specialization
b : a student specializing in such a field a history major
5 majors plural : major league baseball used with the
6 : any of several high-level tournaments in professional golf, tennis, or bowling


majored; majoring; majors

Definition of major (Entry 3 of 4)

intransitive verb

: to pursue an academic major majored in English


biographical name
Ma·​jor | \ ˈmā-jər How to pronounce Major (audio) \

Definition of Major (Entry 4 of 4)

Sir John 1943–     British prime minister (1990–97)

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of major in a Sentence


He's one of the major figures in 19th-century U.S. history. Researchers have announced a major advance in the treatment of cancer. She played a major role in the negotiations. No major changes are expected. The grant covered a major part of the cost. Butter is one of the major ingredients in the recipe. None of his health problems are major. He suffered a major heart attack.


He chose history as his major and French as his minor. What was your major in college? In college, he was a history major. a club for physics majors
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

If anything is going to go bad in a major, the US Open is the chief candidate. Doug Ferguson,, "USGA hopes to have the right formula for this US Open," 10 June 2019 Had the left-hander won, Vondrousova would have become the first teen to win a major since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 US Open and the first at Roland Garros since Iva Majoli in 1997. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Ashleigh Barty beats Marketa Vondrousova to win French Open," 8 June 2019 Tax Fairness Oregon, a liberal advocacy group, questioned why railroads need a public subsidy to cover 50 percent of short line maintenance costs, when at least one is a major company that could receive more than one-third of the tax benefit. Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Oregon lawmakers want to expand tax credit for low-wage workers, families," 8 June 2019 The restaurateur had a major falling out with her castmates throughout the course of filming season 9. Michele Corrison,, "Lisa Vanderpump Quits Real Housewives of Beverly Hills After 9 Seasons," 7 June 2019 Maura Binkley was a 21-year-old German major in her senior year at FSU who had recently joined a rally against gun violence at the state capital. Washington Post, "He always hated women.," 7 June 2019 He was graduated from Syracuse University magna cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa with a major in mathematics., "Dale W. Van Winkle," 7 June 2019 Maura Binkley was a 21-year-old German major in her senior year at FSU who had recently joined a rally against gun violence at the state capital. Steve Hendrix, Anchorage Daily News, "He always hated women. Then he decided to kill them.," 7 June 2019 Supplying those soldiers without a port took a considerable effort and that again is where innovation and ingenuity played a major role. Fox News, "How D-Day technology made Operation Overlord a success," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For the season, his 10.06 at-bats per home run rank fifth in the majors among those with at least 150 at-bats. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres’ Hunter Renfroe doesn’t get worked up, keeps getting better," 11 June 2019 In his career in the majors, Ortiz hit 541 home runs and had a career batting average of .286. Amir Vera, Jason Hanna And Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "David Ortiz is being treated at a Boston hospital as Dominican Republic police try to figure out why he was shot," 11 June 2019 Ortiz played 20 seasons in the majors, hitting .286 with 541 home runs and 1,768 RBIs. Jaclyn Reiss,, "David Ortiz reportedly shot in Dominican Republic," 10 June 2019 Ortiz retired in 2016 after 20 seasons in the majors. Andy Mccullough,, "Angels’ Albert Pujols stunned by shooting of David Ortiz in home country," 10 June 2019 But the Rays play at Tropicana Field, which draws an average of 13,801 — the second-lowest attendance in the majors. David Haugh,, "Take a bow, Cubs meatballs. You helped bring Craig Kimbrel to Chicago.," 10 June 2019 Detroit has the fourth-lowest attendance in the majors. J.l. Kirven, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers gift shop manager loves the team and the fans," 9 June 2019 The Rockies have a total payroll of $148.7 million this season, a franchise record that ranks 12th in the majors, according to Spotrac. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Saunders: Signing Trevor Story to long-term deal should be Rockies’ next big move," 8 June 2019 Right fielder Kepler, including three home runs in Thursday’s 5-4 victory in Cleveland, has 15 homers in 54 games and is hitting .266, also the best of his five years in the majors. Charley Walters, Twin Cities, "Charley Walters: Joe Mauer happy to see Twins’ surge toward playoffs," 8 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Flood, who will be majoring in forestry, is one of the state's largest linemen at 6 feet 6 inches, 300 pounds. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Maricopa OL Michael Flood commits to Northern Arizona football," 10 June 2019 Boettcher, who majored in English at Princeton University and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Shakespeare, couldn't have been better prepared. Author: Antonia Noori Farzan, Anchorage Daily News, "Chicago librarian dethrones record-shattering ‘Jeopardy!’ champ," 4 June 2019 Prince Harry's wife starred on seven seasons of the hit TV show Suits, managed her own lifestyle brand The Tig, and double-majored in theatre and international studies at Northwestern University. Marrying a prince? Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What Is Meghan Markle's Net Worth?," 16 Apr. 2019 The pair attended the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts together (Komyshan majored in dance). Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Ansel Elgort's Girlfriend Violetta Komyshan: Everything We Know," 10 Jan. 2019 Painter enrolled at Old Dominion and double-majored in criminal justice and sociology. Rick Maese,, "He quit a State Department job to play video games. Now he's a star in NBA's 2K League.," 9 July 2018 In the fall, Akinseye will major in psychology at Butler University. Dana Lee, Indianapolis Star, "Northwest senior battles depression, bullying to emerge as valedictorian," 11 June 2018 After a childhood in Silver Spring, Madaleno majored in history and Soviet studies at Syracuse University, where he was elected student body president and lived in fear of being outed. Steve Thompson, Washington Post, "Rich Madaleno: Gubernatorial candidate with insider résumé, outsider story," 8 June 2018 Botkin, 26, majored in math and music at Northeastern. Sean P. Murphy,, "Watch out for fees when renting an apartment," 23 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of major


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1913, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for major

Adjective, Noun, and Verb

Middle English maiour, from Latin major, comparative of magnus great, large — more at much

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about major

Statistics for major

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for major

The first known use of major was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for major



English Language Learners Definition of major

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: very important
: large in number, amount, or extent
: very serious or bad



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

: a military officer in the army, air force, or marines who ranks above a captain
: the main subject studied by a college or university student
: a student who has a specified main subject of study


ma·​jor | \ ˈmā-jər How to pronounce major (audio) \

Kids Definition of major

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : great or greater in number, quantity, rank, or importance A new car is a major expense.
2 : of or relating to a musical scale of eight notes with half steps between the third and fourth and between the seventh and eighth notes and with whole steps between all the others



Kids Definition of major (Entry 2 of 2)

: a commissioned officer in the army, air force, or marine corps ranking above a captain


ma·​jor | \ ˈmā-jər How to pronounce major (audio) \

Medical Definition of major

: involving grave risk : serious a major illness a major surgical procedure — compare minor

Keep scrolling for more



Legal Definition of major

: a person who has attained majority — compare minor

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on major

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with major

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for major

Spanish Central: Translation of major

Nglish: Translation of major for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of major for Arabic Speakers

Comments on major

What made you want to look up major? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!