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 That victory, the first major win of his career, made Woods the first African-American winner at Augusta National. Jace Evans, USA TODAY, "'Making Japan proud': Tiger Woods congratulates Hideki Matsuyama for history-making Masters win," 12 Apr. 2021 However, Nvidia already has a major design win for the platform in the Alps CSCS 20 exaflops supercomputer to be built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Jim Mcgregor, Forbes, "Nvidia Introduces 3 New Arm Processors," 12 Apr. 2021 Travel was complicated, which meant that most of the shoots were concentrated in major cities. New York Times, "Sohina Sidhu, Julian Sanchez, Jonathan Higginbotham, Maia Mihanovich, Amauta M. Firmino, Hudson Oz, Jeremy O. Harris, Sydney Lemmon, Patrick Foley, Edmund Donovan, Andrew Burnap, Michael Breslin, Cat Rodríguez and Em Weinstein," 12 Apr. 2021 While Charl Schwartzel worked up ahead to outlast Jason Day and Adam Scott and secure his first major win, McIlroy worked in relative silence, the dream of a triumphant, cacophonous trip up 18 long since evaporated., "A decade ago, Rory McIlroy’s meltdown at the Masters led to my fight for equality in the workplace," 10 Apr. 2021 Research from the California State University at San Bernardino shows over hate crimes in 16 major U.S. cities dropped in 2020, but anti-Asian attacks soared by 149 percent. Don Stacom,, "Rally at Hartford’s Bushnell Park condemns racism against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders," 10 Apr. 2021 All of San Francisco’s ZIP codes qualify as urban, while most other major Bay Area cities have a mix of urban and suburban ZIP codes. Susie Neilson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Mapped: Real estate prices soared in the Bay Area during the pandemic, but stuttered in San Francisco," 10 Apr. 2021 Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama appeared to reject unionization, a major win for the e-commerce giant, which waged a high-profile battle to prevent the facility from turning into its first union shop on U.S. soil. Washington Post, "Amazon appears to have the votes to overcome union effort, a major win for the e-commerce giant," 9 Apr. 2021 Nationwide, fewer people are applying for the job, and more experienced cops are retiring or quitting in droves, threatening public safety as major cities witness crime spikes. Melissa Chan, Time, "'I'm Going to Make a Change.' Police Departments Struggle to Recruit Black Cops, So This HBCU Came Up With a Plan," 9 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Schauffele was at it again Sunday, taking a run at Matsuyama before that big mistake at 16 left him with yet another close-but-no-cigar major. Paul Newberry, ajc, "X-Man's Agony: Another close call in major for Schauffele," 12 Apr. 2021 The best previous finish by a Japanese player in a men's major was second place by Isao Aoki (to Jack Nicklaus) in the 1980 U.S. Open. Star Tribune, "Day 4 at Augusta," 12 Apr. 2021 Different circumstances on Sunday of course, with champs, a long offseason and another major in between. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "‘Rambo’, Dallas Empire feel improvement despite 3-1 loss to Toronto Ultra," 11 Apr. 2021 The only other player from an Asian country to win a men’s major is South Korea’s Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Doug Ferguson,, "Hideki Matsuyama leads the Masters by 4 shots as he aims to become the first Japanese man to win a major," 10 Apr. 2021 The vaccine seemed to have immunized my English major’s brain from worry. Washington Post, "I wondered what it would be like to be vaccinated and back in a theater. My panic lifted as soon as the lights went down.," 7 Apr. 2021 Picking a college major can seem like a daunting task. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "How to Choose Your College Major," 31 Mar. 2021 Stephen Malec, a senior finance major, shared about his experiences as a business student. Helaine Williams, Arkansas Online, "Two honored at luncheon," 28 Mar. 2021 The Sharks forward drew a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Jose M. Romero, The Arizona Republic, "Kessel's hat trick, Hill's shutout help Coyotes roll to win over Sharks," 28 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Solis plans to major in economics with an emphasis on business. John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Many local high school football players off to top schools," 16 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

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Major.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 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

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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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