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


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The shade is so major that Jo formulated her very own vibrant pink lipstick — dubbed Mimi Pink — for Jennyhouse's upcoming color cosmetics line. Devon Abelman, Allure, "These Are the Biggest Makeup Trends in South Korea in 2019," 8 May 2019 But there’s also a chance that an asteroid could hit a major city, and Bridenstine thinks that chance is large enough to worry about. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Worries the Earth Could Be Hit by a Big Meteor Every 60 Years," 30 Apr. 2019 That was without a major radio hit—typically the main driver of a pop-music breakthrough. Anne Steele, WSJ, "Billie Eilish Has No Major Radio Hits. But She Does Have the No. 1 Album.," 8 Apr. 2019 Last night's Oscars ended in a pretty major upset, as Green Book took the prize for Best Picture despite a slew of controversies that have surrounded the drama since its November release. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Spike Lee Is Not Happy About Green Book Winning Best Picture," 25 Feb. 2019 Skin prepped using the @intraceuticals_official #antioxidantbooster #oxygenfacial For someone who is prepping for a major even like the Oscars, when is the ideal time to get a facial? Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "What Does a Pre-Oscars Facial Really Entail?," 23 Feb. 2019 There's a major change coming to The Voice this season. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "What Are the Cross Battles on 'The Voice?'," 10 Apr. 2019 There are five major brands of IUDs on the U.S. market. Korin Miller, SELF, "When Is It OK to Get Your IUD Removed?," 12 Mar. 2019 The company then works with major brands—ranging from Maybelline New York to Yves Saint Laurent—to better service its shoppers. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Female-Founded Tech Brand Is Changing the Way We Shop," 28 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Adams was a business administration major who spent last summer interning for the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Paul Newberry, The Seattle Times, "Georgia Tech announces death of DT Brandon Adams," 24 Mar. 2019 The victory was Serena's ninth major, moving her ahead of American great Billie Jean King in all-time Grand Slam titles. Julia Poe,, "A History of Serena Williams' Seven Wimbledon Titles," 12 July 2018 McKenna Maness is an Urban and Environmental Policy and Public Health major at Occidental College in Los Angeles., "I Don't Know What I’m Doing Next, But Activism Will Be a Part Of It," 21 June 2018 One of the women involved is an expressive arts therapist, the other has a background in business and Uptgraft is a theater major. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "With her husband deployed in Afghanistan, this woman is opening a play in Anchorage to give voice to military spouses," 11 May 2018 Trump’s de facto science adviser and the top-ranking science official in the White House, Michael Kratsios, is a 31-year-old political science major with no scientific background whatsoever. Maya Kosoff, The Hive, "Trump Offered Bill Gates a Job at the White House," 30 Apr. 2018 In addition to Carmichael, the lawsuit names other officials, including Telisa White and David Hill, who are both majors with the sheriff's office. Lavendrick Smith, charlotteobserver, "Mecklenburg prisoners can't read this magazine. A federal lawsuit aims to change that. | Charlotte Observer," 26 Apr. 2018 That means this romantic gold and silver dress, which is giving off *major* princess vibes, is perfect for this water sign. Alanna Greco, Seventeen, "Exactly What to Wear to Prom, According to Your Sign," 11 Mar. 2019 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has said that peak demand could come as soon as 2025, while U.S. oil majors Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. don’t foresee a peak. Christopher Alessi, WSJ, "BP: Renewables and Natural Gas to Dominate Energy Growth," 14 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sarah, 20 Now majoring in environmental chemistry, Sarah got into her first-choice school, Middlebury College in Vermont, with early admission and a 2130 on the older version of the SAT. Fresh U, Teen Vogue, "7 College Students Debate the Importance of Their SAT Scores," 2 Oct. 2018 Wideman is majoring in human movement health science education (HMHSE). Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Big Cat a big teddy bear and one-of-a-kind for Butler basketball," 20 Feb. 2018 As an undergrad at Harvard, McCargar had started out majoring in physics and astronomy, but while hitchhiking across the country one summer he’d got caught up in the environmental movement and switched to biology. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics," 3 Apr. 2017 The share of college students who major in history has fallen by two-thirds since the early 1970s. Jason Willick, WSJ, "‘How to Hide an Empire’ Review: The Greater United States," 13 Mar. 2019 Lauren McCluskey was majoring in communication and was excited to graduate next spring, said her mother, a professor at Washington State University, adding that her daughter was a Washington state high jump champion in high school and loved to sing. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Seattle Times, "Records: Suspect in Utah university killing was sex offender," 24 Oct. 2018 At the start of 2017, Tati (full name Tatiana Rodriguez) was majoring in journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and working as a columnist for The Daily Illini. Matt Harvey, Chicago Reader, "Hip-Hop / Music / Performing Arts Twenty-year-old poet and rapper Tati wants to help you make your own love potion," 12 June 2018 McDonagh, who played four years of hockey and two years of field hockey at Reading High as well as lacrosse, is majoring in architecture and the environment. Allen Lessels,, "McDonagh plays lacrosse for the fun of it," 8 June 2018 According to his Stetson athletics biography, Gilbert is majoring in business systems and analytics. Stephen Ruiz,, "As Stetson locks up Super Regional berth, ace looms as first-round draft pick," 3 June 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.

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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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Statistics for major

Last Updated

16 May 2019

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Time Traveler for major

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

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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

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).


something valued as if it were money

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