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)

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Examples of major in a Sentence

Adjective 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. Noun 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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective From Thursday to Tuesday – in which parades roll each night and during some afternoons – rain doesn’t look to be a major issue. al, "Mardi Gras attendance down, but weather looks ‘favorable’ for a strong finish," 18 Feb. 2020 Abortions that are not performed at one of the facilities are done in hospitals, where proper access is a major issue, according to Avila-Guillen. Ella Torres, ABC News, "Colombia to decide on historic abortion ruling," 16 Feb. 2020 Sources have said that there were not major issues with this during test runs. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump-Bloomberg Twitter feud heats up," 13 Feb. 2020 Amy Klobuchar Biggest red flags: She, too, is a normal progressive on all the major issues who only looks moderate in comparison to the nuts to her left. Robert Verbruggen, National Review, "Is There a Democrat for Anti-Trump Conservatives?," 13 Feb. 2020 The other major issues reported were difficulty in reading (37%) and redness in the eyes (20%). Prachi Salve, Quartz India, "“Sleepless for days”: Indian truckers are overworked, underpaid, and have no healthcare," 12 Feb. 2020 Morvant will attend Sam Houston University and major in education. Don Maines, Houston Chronicle, "Here are this year’s Majestic Court winners," 12 Feb. 2020 Plus, the first-of-the-year timing isn’t great to try to kick off a major lifestyle change. Kelsey Hurwitz, Woman's Day, "Could Mini, Monthly Goals Be the Key to Resolution Success? We're About to Find Out," 11 Feb. 2020 College officials expect as many as 60 people will elect the major in the next four years, a respectable start for a new degree. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Colorado State University launches cannabis degree program," 10 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sadiyah Jenkins, a senior psychology major who attended the pantry's ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, emphasized the need for the pantry for the student population. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, "Bowie State University opens a lounge-style food pantry for students in need," 18 Feb. 2020 Carrie McCaw's father is Dave Urton, a retired major with the department. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Procession planned for mothers and daughters killed on way to volleyball tourney," 17 Feb. 2020 The Sun Devils scored twice with the man advantage Saturday, including late in the third period after the Seawolves were called for a five-minute boarding major. Anchorage Daily News, "UAA hockey team loses again to 10th-ranked Sun Devils," 16 Feb. 2020 Jayde McDonald, a political science major at Buffalo State College, grew up as one of the few black students in Lockport public schools. Davey Alba, New York Times, "Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools," 6 Feb. 2020 Yuxin Lu, a supply-chain management major, and his friend Huijia Lin, who is studying data analytics, visited a Home Depot to buy masks with air filters shortly after seeing the news. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "ASU declines student petition to cancel classes in wake of new coronavirus case," 27 Jan. 2020 Reid is an engineering major at Stanford University. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans' Justin Reid partners with schools to increase technology," 19 Dec. 2019 Gabrielle graduated from the Ursuline School, a Catholic middle and high school in New Rochelle, New York, and then became a math major at the College of New Rochelle., "Deaths in South Florida: 12/5," 5 Dec. 2019 Simmons was nominally a sociology major at the City College of New York. Bill Adler, Smithsonian, "Every Year Just ‘Bout This Time, Kurtis Blow Celebrates With a Rhyme," 3 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Off the court, Clephane is majoring in communication studies and professional sales. James Weber,, "Catching Up: Northern Kentucky grads chase conference titles in DI women's basketball," 17 Feb. 2020 Fewer women are majoring in education now than in years past. Ramsey Archibald |, al, "What did Alabamians study in college? Most popular majors by county," 15 Feb. 2020 Evan was majoring in biology and Spanish with plans to become a nurse working in underprivileged countries. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Wabash football player searched CTE on laptop then took his own life," 13 Feb. 2020 Buchanan, 20, is majoring in mathematical finance and economics and is slated to graduate this year. Patrick Danner,, "Trinity students who designed ‘smart pill-bottle cap’ say technology was stolen," 15 Jan. 2020 Nejedlo is triple majoring at Madison in marketing, entrepreneurship and information systems. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This Kettle Moraine grad invented a new tailgating game before he even got to college," 30 Dec. 2019 Killingsworth is majoring in pre-med, while UIC officials said George, a member of the honors college, was studying kinesiology with the goal of becoming a physical therapist. Megan Crepeau,, "Murder suspect grew frustrated when UIC student didn’t react to his catcalls, prosecutors allege," 25 Nov. 2019 Students majoring in history are vanishing, with the number of undergraduates studying the subject plunging more than any other field from 2011 to 2017. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "A liberal arts education pays off — but it takes decades," 14 Jan. 2020 Aertker, 21, is majoring in computer science and philosophy, and expects to graduate in December. Patrick Danner,, "Trinity students who designed ‘smart pill-bottle cap’ say technology was stolen," 15 Jan. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for major

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for major

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Major.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for major


How to pronounce Major (audio)

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

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Legal Definition of major

: a person who has attained majority — compare minor

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More from Merriam-Webster on major

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for major

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with major

Spanish Central: Translation of major

Nglish: Translation of major for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of major for Arabic Speakers

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