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Big vs. Great: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sara Rehman || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on November 16, 2023
Big typically refers to physical size or extent, while great often implies excellence, quality, or degree.

Key Differences

Big primarily describes the size, extent, or amount of something, often physically. It is used in a literal sense (e.g., a big house). Great, however, conveys a sense of quality, excellence, or intensity, and is used in both literal and figurative contexts (e.g., a great achievement).
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
Big is a more neutral term, describing physical dimensions or quantities without implying quality. Great carries an emotional or qualitative connotation, suggesting superiority or outstanding nature (e.g., great joy).
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
The word big can be applied to objects, people, or concepts where size is the primary focus. Great is more versatile, used for emotions, achievements, quality, and also in historical contexts (e.g., Alexander the Great).
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023
In comparative forms, big becomes 'bigger,' focusing on size. Great becomes 'greater,' emphasizing an increase in quality or intensity.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023
Big has straightforward, tangible implications. Great, on the other hand, has been used historically to denote significance or eminence, often in titles or to describe eras or events.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

Physical size or extent.
Excellence, quality, or high degree.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Emotional Connotation

Neutral, factual.
Positive, implying superiority.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Usage

Literal, tangible aspects.
Both literal and figurative, broader scope.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Comparative Form

Bigger - larger in size.
Greater - higher in quality or degree.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Cultural Significance

Less culturally loaded.
Often denotes historical or cultural importance.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
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Big and Great Definitions

Big

Significant in amount or degree.
She made a big decision.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Great

Remarkable in magnitude or significance.
It was a great victory.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Big

Enthusiastic or supportive.
They are big fans of jazz music.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Great

Skilled or adept.
He is great at solving puzzles.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Big

Famous or prominent.
He is a big actor in Hollywood.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023
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Great

Of high quality or outstanding.
She is a great teacher.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Big

Large in size or extent.
He lives in a big house.
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Great

Enthusiastic or keen.
They have a great interest in art.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Big

Older or mature, especially in reference to siblings.
My big sister is starting college.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Great

Historical importance or fame.
Alexander the Great was a renowned leader.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Big

Of considerable size, number, quantity, magnitude, or extent; large.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2022

Great

Very large in size, extent, or intensity
A great pile of rubble.
A great storm.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2022

Big

Having great strength or force
A big wind.
In a big rage.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2022

Great

Of a larger size than other, similar forms
The great anteater.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2022

Big

Of great significance; momentous
A big decision.
A big victory.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2022

Great

Large in quantity or number
A great throng awaited us.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 22, 2022

FAQs

Is 'big' always physical?

Mostly, but it can be used metaphorically (e.g., a big idea).
Sara Rehman
Nov 13, 2023

Is 'big' used in comparisons?

Yes, to compare size or extent (e.g., bigger than).
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Can inanimate objects be described as 'great'?

Yes, if they are outstanding in quality or significance.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Does 'great' always mean something positive?

Generally, yes, but context can alter its connotation (e.g., great danger).
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can we use 'big' for non-physical concepts?

Yes, in metaphorical or exaggerated expressions.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can 'big' and 'great' be used interchangeably?

Not always, as 'big' refers to size, while 'great' implies quality.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Does 'big' imply importance?

Not necessarily, it's more about size or extent.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can 'great' refer to historical figures?

Yes, often to denote their importance (e.g., Catherine the Great).
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can 'great' be used in everyday conversation?

Yes, it's common in casual and formal speech.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

How do 'bigger' and 'greater' differ?

'Bigger' refers to increased size, while 'greater' refers to improved quality or degree.
Janet White
Nov 13, 2023

Is 'great' used in formal contexts?

Yes, especially to denote respect or admiration.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Can both words be used in superlative forms?

Yes, as 'biggest' and 'greatest.'
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Are 'big' and 'great' subjective?

'Big' is less subjective, while 'great' can vary based on opinion.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 13, 2023

Can 'big' have a negative connotation?

Sometimes, in contexts like 'big problem.'
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Is 'big' used in historical contexts?

Less commonly than 'great,' which often denotes historical significance.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Is 'big' commonly used in idioms?

Yes, in phrases like 'big deal' or 'big shot.'
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Does 'great' imply a higher degree than 'big'?

In terms of quality or significance, yes.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Can a small thing be 'great'?

Yes, if it's outstanding in quality or importance.
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Are there synonyms for 'big' and 'great'?

Yes, like large for 'big' and excellent for 'great.'
Harlon Moss
Nov 13, 2023

Does 'great' always refer to the past?

No, it can refer to contemporary or future contexts.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.

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