great

great O.E. great "big, tall, thick, stout; coarse," from W.Gmc. *grautaz "coarse, thick" (Cf. O.S. grot, O.Fris. grat, Du. groot, Ger. groß "great"). Said to have meant originally "big in size, coarse," and, if so, perhaps from PIE root *ghreu- "to rub, grind." It took over much of the sense of M.E. mickle, and is now largely superseded by BIG (Cf. big) and LARGE (Cf. large) except for non-material things.
As a prefix to terms denoting "kinship one degree further removed" (early 15c., earliest attested use is in great uncle) it is from the similar use of Fr. grand, itself used as the equivalent of L. magnus. An O.E. way of saying "great-grandfather" was þridda fæder, lit. "third father."
In the sense of "excellent, wonderful" great is attested from 1848. Great White Way "Broadway in New York City" is from 1901. Great Spirit "high deity of the North American Indians," 1703, originally translates Ojibwa kitchi manitou. The Great War originally (1887) referred to the Napoleonic Wars, later (1914) to what we now call World War I (see WORLD (Cf. world)).
"The Great War" -- as, until the fall of France, the British continued to call the First World War in order to avoid admitting to themselves that they were now again engaged in a war of the same magnitude. [Arnold Toynbee, "Experiences," 1969]
Also formerly with a verb form, O.E. greatian, M.E. greaten "to become larger, increase, grow; become visibly pregnant," which became archaic after 17c.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Great — (gr[=a]t), a. [Compar. {Greater}; superl. {Greatest}.] [OE. gret, great, AS. gre[ a]t; akin to OS. & LG. gr[=o]t, D. groot, OHG. gr[=o]z, G. gross. Cf. {Groat} the coin.] 1. Large in space; of much size; big; immense; enormous; expanded; opposed… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Great go — Great Great (gr[=a]t), a. [Compar. {Greater}; superl. {Greatest}.] [OE. gret, great, AS. gre[ a]t; akin to OS. & LG. gr[=o]t, D. groot, OHG. gr[=o]z, G. gross. Cf. {Groat} the coin.] 1. Large in space; of much size; big; immense; enormous;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • great — [grāt] adj. [ME grete < OE great, akin to Ger gross, Du groot < IE base * ghrēu , rub hard over, crumble > GRIT, Welsh gro, sand: basic sense “coarse, coarsegrained”] 1. of much more than ordinary size, extent, volume, etc.; esp., a)… …   English World dictionary

  • Great DJ — «Great DJ» Sencillo de The Ting Tings del álbum We Started Nothing Formato CD Single, Descarga digital Género(s) Dance pop/Indie pop Discográfica …   Wikipedia Español

  • great — great; great·en; great·hearted; great·heart·ed·ly; great·heart·ed·ness; great·ly; great·ness; Great; …   English syllables

  • great- — [greıt] prefix 1.) great grandfather/great grandmother/great aunt/great uncle the ↑grandfather, ↑grandmother etc of your parents 2.) great grandchild/great granddaughter etc the grandchildren of your child …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • great — ► ADJECTIVE 1) of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above average. 2) of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above average. 3) informal excellent. 4) most important: the great thing is the challenge. 5) particularly deserving a… …   English terms dictionary

  • Great — may mean:* Greatness, the state of being superior, majestic, transcendent, or divine * GREAT, Gang Resistance Education and Training * GReAT, Graph Rewriting and Transformation, a Model Transformation Language * Great (film), a British animated… …   Wikipedia

  • great- — [grāt] 〚/span> GREAT, taken as intensifier〛 combining form older (or younger) by one generation: each additional great shows one further generation removed [great aunt, great great grandson] * * * …   Universalium

  • great- — [grāt] [< GREAT, taken as intensifier] combining form older (or younger) by one generation: each additional great shows one further generation removed [great aunt, great great grandson] …   English World dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.