Meaning of “great” in the English Dictionary

"great" in British English

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uk /ɡreɪt/ us /ɡreɪt/

great adjective (BIG)

A2 large in amount, size, or degree:

an enormous great hole
The issue is of great importance to voters.
The improvement in water standards over the last 50 years has been very great.
A great many people would agree.
The great majority of (= almost all) people would agree.
formal It gives us great pleasure to announce the engagement of our daughter Maria.
formal It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the death of our director.
I have great sympathy for you.
I spent a great deal of time there.

[ before noun ] used in names, especially to mean large or important:

a Great Dane (= large type of dog)
Catherine the Great
the Great Wall of China
the Great Bear (= group of stars)
greater than specialized

larger in number or amount than:

X must be equal to or greater than 10.

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great adjective (FAMOUS)

B2 approving famous, powerful, or important as one of a particular type:

a great politician/leader/artist/man/woman
This is one of Rembrandt's greatest paintings.
Who do you think is the greatest modern novelist?

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great adjective (GOOD)

A1 informal very good:

a great idea
We had a great time last night at the party.
It's great to see you after all this time!
"I'll lend you the car if you like." "Great! Thanks a lot!"
"What's your new teacher like?" "Oh, he's great."
"How are you feeling now?" "Great."

informal used to mean that something is very bad:

Oh great ! That's all I need - more bills!

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noun [ U ] uk /ˈɡreɪt.nəs/ us /ˈɡreɪt.nəs/

B2 skill and importance:

Her greatness as a writer is unquestioned.

greatadverb [ before noun ], adjective

uk /ɡreɪt/ us /ɡreɪt/ informal

B2 used to emphasize the meaning of another word:

a great big spider
a great long queue
You great idiot!
Pat's a great friend of mine.

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greatnoun [ C ]

uk /ɡreɪt/ us /ɡreɪt/


uk /ɡreɪt-/ us /ɡreɪt-/

used with a word for a family member to mean one generation away from that member:

your great-grandmother (= the grandmother of one of your parents)
your great-grandson (= the grandson of your child)

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

"great" in American English

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greatadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /ɡreɪt/

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

large or unusually large in amount or degree:

the Great Lakes
He went on to great success as an actor.
There was a great deal of (= a lot of) excitement in the classroom before lunch.

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

important, powerful, or famous:

a great president
a great athlete

great adjective [ -er/-est only ] (GOOD)

infml very good or very effective; excellent:

We had a great time.
She has a great voice.
This stuff is great for cleaning windows.
noun [ U ] us /ˈɡreɪt·nəs/

Her greatness as a writer is beyond question.

greatnoun [ C ]

us /ɡreɪt/

great noun [ C ] (IMPORTANT PERSON)

a famous person in a particular area of activity:

This sports facility is named after the tennis great Arthur Ashe.


us /ˌɡreɪt/

great- prefix (FAMILIES)

used with a word for a family member, such as grandmother, to mean one generation older than that family member:


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