Meaning of “big” in the English Dictionary

"big" in British English

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bigadjective

us uk /bɪɡ/ bigger, biggest

big adjective (LARGE)

A1 large in size or amount:

He's a big man.
Could I try these shoes in a bigger size?
They have a big house in the country.
She has blonde hair and big blue eyes.
She had a big pay rise.
I had a great big slice of chocolate cake for dessert.
A thousand people took part in the region's biggest ever cycle race.
informal You write August with a big (= capital) "a".
informal She's always been a big spender (= she has always spent a lot of money).
informal You're not a very big eater, are you? (= You do not eat a lot.)

A2 informal older or more like an adult:

Her big (= older) sister/brother told her to go away.
I'm ashamed of you. You're big enough to know better (= at an age where you should know that your behaviour is not acceptable).

C2 [ before noun ] informal used to add emphasis:

You're a big bully!
He fell for her in a big way (= was greatly attracted to her).

More examples

  • What happened to your jacket? There's a big rip in the sleeve.
  • The big windows make the room feel wonderfully light and airy.
  • There's a big sports hall for tennis and badminton and such like.
  • We made a big profit on that deal.
  • That jacket looks a bit big for you.

big adjective (IMPORTANT)

A2 important, because of being powerful, or having a lot of influence or a serious effect:

He had a big decision to make.
There's a big difference between starting up a business and just talking about it.
The big story in the news this week is the mayor's resignation.
The four biggest banks are all planning to cut their service charges.
be big somewhere/in sth informal

to be important or famous in a particular place or type of work:

They're big in Japan, but no one's heard of them here.

C1 informal If a product or activity is big, it is extremely popular:

Hip-hop is still big today.

More examples

  • She'll be in big trouble if she crashes Sam's car.
  • Her big opportunity came when she was offered a role in a Spielberg film.
  • His height and reach give him a big advantage over other boxers.
  • I must get some sleep - I've got a big day tomorrow.
  • Exercise can make a big difference to your state of health.

(Definition of “big” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"big" in American English

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bigadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /bɪɡ/ -gg-

big adjective [ -er/-est only ] (LARGE)

large in size or amount:

a big ant/man/building/city
Do you have these shoes in a bigger size?
He tried to impress his friends by using big words.
She got a big raise.
I had a great big slice of chocolate cake.
This is the region’s biggest bicycle race.

Big can also mean to a large degree:

a big spender/eater

infml Big can also mean older:

infml Big can also be used to add emphasis:

You’re a big bully!

big adjective [ -er/-est only ] (IMPORTANT)

important, because of being powerful, influential, or having a serious effect:

He had a big decision to make about his future.
There’s a big difference between starting up a business and just talking about it.
The big story in the news this week is the blizzard in the Midwest.
We just bought a house, so today’s a big day for us.

infml If a product or activity is big, it is extremely popular:

Those toys are very big in Japan.

(Definition of “big” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"big" in Business English

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bigadjective

uk /bɪɡ/ us informal
too big to fail BANKING, FINANCE

describing a bank that is so important to the economy of a country that the government will give it public money to prevent it from failing. This happened with many big banks between 2008-2009. :

UK taxpayers funded banks thought too big to fail to the tune of billions of pounds, which makes the latest round of public spending cuts very hard to take.
Who was it said that if a bank is too big to fail, it's too big?

(Definition of “big” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)