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 The Corps of Engineers' study of major upgrades is not expected to be completed until 2021. Author: Rachel D'oro, Anchorage Daily News, "Seward seeks upgrades for antiquated flood-control system," 11 Nov. 2019 Now, Claire Selvin reports for ARTnews, Miranda and his father, Luis Miranda Jr., have partnered with Google Arts and Culture for a new digitization project aimed at archiving art housed in major Puerto Rican museums. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Lin-Manuel Miranda Teams Up With Google to Digitize Puerto Rico’s Art," 11 Nov. 2019 There’s definitely something for everyone, and our new wheelchair could get through the halls of the ship – a major plus! Lori Swanson, Twin Cities, "My mother says she’s British. Her DNA says Scandinavian. So we went to check out the beautiful homeland," 10 Nov. 2019 So this is a major part of his arc in the first season? Chancellor Agard,, "Batwoman star says that major deviation from the comics changes everything for Luke," 9 Nov. 2019 Turney retired as a major after 36 years with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in 2009. oregonlive, "Notorious bank robber who led bloody 1982 Portland jail escape dies, prison officials say," 8 Nov. 2019 The last two seasons at Nevada, Musselman had a mid-major program from the Mountain West Conference consistently ranked in the Top 25. Elton Alexander, cleveland, "NE Ohio basketball nomads Eric Musselman, Earl Boykins reunite at Arkansas," 8 Nov. 2019 Ten years after a devastating crisis, some Icelanders had deja vu, throwing them back to the days when the nation of around 300,000 witnessed all of its major private banks default. Washington Post, "The cautionary political tale of Iceland’s last McDonald’s burger that simply won’t rot, even after 10 years," 2 Nov. 2019 That project was out of my major, just to get some skills with interviewing, social skills., "The Worcester Polytechnic Institute men’s soccer team is on a roll, with Reading’s Jackson Conroy a pivotal piece in their success. At 10-2-4 overall and 4-0-2 in league play, the Engineers sit in a tie with Babson atop the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.," 1 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The rookie first baseman who leads the majors with 47 home runs has missed only one game this season. Ben Walker,, "Kershaw, Dodgers catch Syndergaard on bad day, beat Mets 9-2," 14 Sep. 2019 Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, who leads the majors with 47 home runs, coordinated the purchase and production of custom 9/11 cleats for the Mets players, CBS New York reports. Christopher Brito, CBS News, "Wearing 9/11-inspired cleats, Mets get emotional win on anniversary of September 11 attacks," 12 Sep. 2019 The outfielder was leading the majors in slugging percentage and OPS when he was hurt., "Christian Yelich fouls a ball off himself and breaks his kneecap. The Brewers star is out for the season.," 10 Sep. 2019 New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso leads the majors with 47 homers. Bobby Nightengale,, "After torn ACL, Alex Blandino looking to make most of his September with Cincinnati Reds," 5 Sep. 2019 Adam Kolarek, a lefty who has pitched for the Dodgers and Rays this season, leads the majors with 30 appearances of two batters or less. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB's efforts to speed up play run into reality of modern game: 'It's not going to happen'," 3 Sep. 2019 The Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays are the only teams to lead the majors over the past 10 years. Noah Trister, Twin Cities, "Twins came from out of nowhere to set home run record," 2 Sep. 2019 Sandoval, who leads the majors with 17 pinch hits, now is tied for second with Candy Maldonado (1986) in single-season Giants history. Jeff Faraudo, The Mercury News, "Takeaways: Giants suffer double dose of pain with loss of Joe Panik, game," 6 Aug. 2019 Minnesota leads the majors with 209 home runs, 16 shy of the club record set in 1963. Christopher Stock,, "Anderson hits grand slam in ninth, but Marlins’ rally falls short after Alcantara gives up three homers to Twins," 1 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At Michigan, Rose majored in mass communications and studied television and film. Kaelen Jones,, "'It Don't Stop': Jalen Rose's Work Days Are a Whirlwind," 11 July 2019 In college, at Ouachita Baptist University, in Arkansas, Sanders majored in political science and led the student senate. Paige Williams, The New Yorker, "Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders the Future of the Republican Party?," 17 June 2019 Payne majored in computer science and math, and teamed up with researchers and teachers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to design the AI ethics curriculum. Jenny Anderson, Quartz, "MIT developed a course to teach tweens about the ethics of AI," 4 Sep. 2019 Elmhurst College has received two National Science Foundation grants totaling $2.75 million to help students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics succeed in those fields. Graydon Megan,, "Elmhurst College to further STEM education with $2.75 million grants from National Science Foundation," 16 Sep. 2019 Zhu is a University of Michigan student, majoring in political science. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Ex-Miss Michigan joins Trump reelection campaign after being stripped of title," 27 July 2019 Lueck is a part-time student at the University of Utah in her senior year majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing. Washington Post, "Search for missing student turns up ‘person of interest’," 27 June 2019 Shandling was always drawn to comedy, but made a stab at a civilian vocation by majoring in business in college. David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle, "Shandling a little less elusive, but even greater genius in Apatow documentary," 22 Mar. 2018 The pair met in college where both took classes in Filipino Studies, with Manuguid eventually majoring in fine arts and moving on to a career in experience design. Fortune, "Seattle’s Coolest New Restaurants Break the Mold," 8 Sep. 2019

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

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for major

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

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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

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).


not being in agreement or harmony

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