Date: 1300-1400
Origin: Probably from a Scandinavian language


1 adjective
big1 S1 W1 comparative bigger, superlative biggest


of more than average size or amount:
a big house
I need a bigger desk.
She had a big grin on her face.
a big increase in crime
Los Angeles is the biggest city in California.
The garage isn't big enough for two cars.
When they lose, they lose in a big way (=to a large degree).
There was this great big (=extremely big) spider in the sink.
see usage note fat1


important and serious:
a big decision
Buying your own house is a big commitment.
The big game is on Friday.
There's a big difference between understanding something and being able to explain it to others.
Everyone was getting ready for the big day (=a day when an important event will happen).


successful or popular, especially in business or entertainment:
Julia Roberts became a big star.
She's very big in Australia.
After years as a small-time actor, he suddenly made it big (=became very successful) in Hollywood.
the big boys (=the most powerful people or companies)
big cheese, big noise

; ➔ big shot

at shot1 (14), big time



big sister/brother

your older sister or brother
b) older or more like an adult - used especially by children or when you are talking to children:
Come on, don't cry. You're a big girl now.

large degree

[only before noun] informal
a) doing something to a large degree
a big eater/drinker/spender etc
Des is a big gambler, you know.
b) done to a large degree or with great energy
give somebody a big hug/kiss
Mama gave me a big hug.
give somebody a big hand (=clap loudly)


[only before noun] informal used to emphasize how bad something is:
AIDS remains a big problem in many parts of the world.
Buying that house was a big mistake.
I never said that, you big liar!

have big ideas/plans

to have impressive plans for the future:
I've got big plans for this place.

be big on something

a) to like something very much:
I'm not big on kids.
b) to have a lot of a quality or feature:
The new BMW is big on safety features.

what's the big idea?

spoken used when someone has done something annoying, especially when you want them to explain why they did it:
Hey, what's the big idea? Who said you could use my computer?


it is big of somebody to do something

a) used to say that someone is very kind or generous to do something
b) used when you really think that someone is not kind or helpful at all:
£5! That was big of her!

big mouth

spoken someone who has a big mouth cannot be trusted to keep things secret:
I'm sorry. I shouldn't have opened my big mouth.
me and my big mouth (=said when you wish you had not told someone a secret)


informal big letters are capitals, for example G, R, A etc


informal big words are long or unusual and are difficult to read or understand

be/get too big for your boots

informal to be too proud of yourself

use/wield the big stick

informal to threaten to use your power to get what you want

big up (to/for) somebody

spoken informal used when you want to praise someone:
Big up to Kelly Holmes! She ran a superb race.

➔ think big

at think1 (39)

big, large, great
big and large have the same meaning, but large is slightly more formal and more likely to be used in written than spoken English a big lunch a large houselarge is used with quantity words such as 'number' and 'amount' large amounts of money a large proportion of the studentsgreat is not usually used to talk about size but it can be used in literary writing to describe very large and impressive things Before them stood a great palace.great is used with length, height, and age, and in the expression a great deal (=a lot) The grass had reached a great height. a great deal of money WORD CHOICE: big, tall, highbig is not used just to describe a person's height. It is used to describe a child who is growing, or a person who is heavy, with a lot of fat or muscle on their body.tall is used to describe a person's height. It can also be used to describe trees, buildings, or other things that are narrow and measure a long distance from bottom to top She is tall and thin. the tallest building in Londonhigh is used to describe things or places that are a long way from the ground a high shelf the highest mountain in the world

fat, overweight, obese, chubby, plump, big, well-built
In general, people do not like to be called fat. But some ways to say 'fat' are less rude than others.fat is a very direct word. You might use it about yourself but it will usually cause offence if you use it about someone else I'm so fat at the moment!overweight is a more polite way to say that someone is fatter than they usually are or than they should be She is a little overweight.obese is a word used especially by doctors to describe people who are very fat, in a way that is bad for their health.chubby is a more informal word and is used especially of children or of rounded body parts such as cheeks or knees.plump means fat and rounded in a pleasant way a plump, motherly womanbig and well-built are fairly polite ways to describe someone with a large, strong, or fat body For big men like him, air travel can be uncomfortable.See also fat

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