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 In most major decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, which according to Facebook is the model for the Oversight Board, justices put their names to their majority opinions and to their dissents. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Facebook’s non-decision on banning Trump does no one any good," 5 May 2021 Even on a team stocked with All-WNBA talent, 24-year-old Turner is a major part of the present and even more so of the future since Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith are 30 or older. Jeff Metcalfe, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Mercury expecting even more from Brianna Turner in third season," 5 May 2021 But while nature is a major part of the equation, nurture is just as much of a driving force. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "19 Beauty Experts on the Lessons They’ve Learned From Their Mothers," 5 May 2021 The newspaper said evidence showed Thammanat played a major part in the operation. Jerry Harmer, Star Tribune, "Thai court says key official can stay despite drug case," 5 May 2021 One of the best things about small businesses is your ability to make major decisions on the fly. Mark Otter, Forbes, "How To Maintain Small-Brand Nimbleness As You Grow," 4 May 2021 Other nominees include major broadcast and streaming organizations like PBS, Netflix and HBO, as well as local news stations in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Sacramento. Louisville Courier Journal, The Courier-Journal, "Courier Journal, ABC 20/20 nominated for Peabody Award for Breonna Taylor special report," 4 May 2021 His ascent was accompanied by a remaking of the editorial leadership of some of India’s major news organizations, in particular national-level television networks. Debasish Roy Chowdhury, Time, "It Isn't Just Modi. India’s Compliant Media Must Also Take Responsibility for the COVID-19 Crisis," 3 May 2021 Enjoy being treated well, but don’t make major decisions or changes. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for May 1, 2021: Aries, stick to rules to get what you want; Taurus, it takes a village," 1 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Being an engineering major on the verge of completing his undergraduate degree at Rutgers, Johnson took a mathematical approach to his dilemma. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, "UCLA gets commitments from center Myles Johnson and guard Dylan Andrews," 16 Apr. 2021 Born and raised in Baltimore, Patrick was an English major at the University of Maryland, and worked as a nightclub owner and failed businessman before refashioning himself as a shock-jock radio host and then a far-right politico. Casey Michel, The New Republic, "The Republican Poseurs Who Claim to Be True Texans," 30 Mar. 2021 An English major typically will need to fork over a higher percentage of salary than an engineering student. New York Times, "A Novel Way to Finance School May Penalize Students From H.B.C.U.s, Study Finds," 25 Mar. 2021 On Monday night, Alyssa Wray, an 18-year-old music theater major at NKU, paired with Grace Kinstler, a 20-year-old from Chicago, for a duet and the final performance of the night. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Two Kentucky singers wow judges, move onto Showstoppers Round of 'American Idol'," 24 Mar. 2021 Alyssa Wray, an 18-year-old music theater major at NKU paired with Grace Kinstler, a 20-year-old from Chicago for the final performance of the night. Jennie Key, The Enquirer, "'American Idol:' How did local contestant Alyssa Wray do in the duet round Monday night?," 23 Mar. 2021 Like many seniors, Mikayli Solomon, 21, an advertising major at Howard, is hopeful that some sort of in-person event will be allowed so that the celebration can be shared. Washington Post, "Most D.C.-area colleges and universities have yet to finalize commencement plans," 20 Mar. 2021 Sadie is a graduate of Hawken School and is an art and art history major. cleveland, "Cleveland Restaurant Week TO GO is now on; temple sets fundraising dates; more: Press Run," 19 Mar. 2021 Jael Acuna, an electrical engineering major; Briana Cordova, business management; and Lemuel Johnson, applied physics. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "CSUSM team wins funding from DOD arm," 11 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Following graduation, Baracz plans to attend the University of Findlay to major in Animal Science/Pre-Vet, minor in Spanish, and play with the school’s softball team, the Oilers. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Greene Acres Raffle offers a bonanza of prizes for the yard and garden: Talk of the Towns," 9 Apr. 2021 Isabella plans to major in business management in college. Dana Scott, The Arizona Republic, "For Seton Catholic's DiGiovanni, tote bags for charity and state championships go hand-in-hand," 11 Apr. 2021 Serafin plans to major in economics at Boston College but will not play soccer. Matt Le Cren,, "‘He wins everything’: Soft-spoken Zach Serafin makes presence felt as backbone of Benet’s stingy defense," 2 Apr. 2021 According to Motes’ obituary, she had been accepted at Troy University and planned to major in nursing. Carol Robinson |, al, "20-year-old man charged in traffic crash death of 17-year-old friend," 19 Mar. 2021 Browne is planning on going to school to possibly major in Astrophysics and has offers from Division III schools. Mike Morea,, "Kayla Browne relishing one more chance to chase county title with Reservoir volleyball," 15 Mar. 2021 The young Holbrook spent his high school years at the Culver Military Academy in Indiana and then enrolled at Denison to major in the dramatic arts, but his education was interrupted by service as an Army engineer during World War II. Robert Berkvist, Star Tribune, "Hal Holbrook, actor who channeled Mark Twain, dies at 95," 2 Feb. 2021 Many of the organization's participants have decided to major in computer science in college. Chanel Stitt, Detroit Free Press, "Cybersecurity industry in Detroit is growing and mentors are starting with young people," 12 Nov. 2020 Massa isn’t sure that, after the pandemic, there will be a rush to major in the fields with the highest pay. Washington Post, "More info is available about which college majors pay off, but students aren’t using it," 25 Dec. 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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Major.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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

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Legal Definition of major

: a person who has attained majority — compare minor

More from Merriam-Webster on major

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for major

Nglish: Translation of major for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of major for Arabic Speakers

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