Difference Wiki

Big vs. Small: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 14, 2024
Big refers to large size, extent, or amount, whereas small indicates lesser size, extent, or amount.

Key Differences

Big is often associated with substantial size or extent, showcasing something larger than average or usual. In contrast, small is used to describe objects or concepts that are limited in size, representing a smaller-than-average scale or measure.
In terms of impact or significance, big can imply major importance or influence, suggesting something of great significance. Small, on the other hand, might refer to something of minor importance or lesser impact, often overlooked or considered insignificant.
From a physical perspective, big denotes larger physical dimensions or volume, applicable to objects, spaces, or entities. Conversely, small refers to lesser dimensions or volume, indicating a compact or reduced physical presence.
In a metaphorical sense, big can symbolize abundance or vastness in non-physical attributes like ideas or emotions. Small, alternatively, might symbolize scarcity or minimalism, often used to describe limited or restrained non-physical qualities.
In everyday language, big is frequently used to express exaggeration or to emphasize, while small is often utilized to convey modesty or to downplay.

Comparison Chart


Large in dimension or volume
Small in dimension or volume


Of great significance or impact
Of lesser significance or impact


Ample or abundant amount
Limited or scarce amount


Intense or strong in nature
Mild or gentle in nature


Noticeable or prominent
Subtle or inconspicuous

Big and Small Definitions


Large in size.
The big elephant towered over the fence.


Few in number.
Only a small group attended the meeting.


Generous in amount.
He won a big prize in the lottery.


Limited in size.
She lives in a small apartment downtown.


Significant in importance.
Her big breakthrough came with her latest novel.


Diminutive in nature.
They adopted a small puppy from the shelter.


Extensive in scope.
They're planning a big renovation for their house.


Minimal in importance.
It was a small issue, easily fixed.


Exaggerated in expression.
She told a big story about her adventures.


Narrow in scope.
He focused on small details of the project.


Of considerable size, number, quantity, magnitude, or extent; large.


Being below average in size
A small car.


Being below average in quantity or extent
A small donation.
A small project.


Can "big" be subjective?

Yes, what is considered big can vary based on personal perspective.

What does "big" typically indicate in physical terms?

It indicates larger size, volume, or dimension.

Can "small" be used to describe time?

Yes, to indicate a short duration or lesser time span.

Is "small" only used for physical objects?

No, it can refer to small quantities, lesser importance, or minimal presence.

Is "small" ever used metaphorically?

Yes, like referring to small gestures with big impacts.

Can "big" imply a positive meaning?

Yes, it can suggest something favorable like a big opportunity.

Does "big" always mean physically large?

No, it can also imply importance, intensity, or abundance.

Can "small" have a positive connotation?

Yes, it can imply intimacy, detail-orientation, or manageability.

Is "small" appropriate in academic contexts?

Yes, especially when precise or scaled descriptions are needed.

Does "small" apply to feelings?

Yes, it can describe subtle or mild emotions.

Can "small" refer to age?

Yes, often indicating youth or infancy.

Does "small" always mean insignificant?

Not necessarily, as it can describe something modest yet valuable.

Is "big" used in formal writing?

It can be, though synonyms might be preferred for variety.

Can "big" be used metaphorically?

Absolutely, to represent concepts like big dreams or ambitions.

Can "big" be used in a negative sense?

Yes, like describing an exaggeration or overemphasis.

Can "small" have negative implications?

It can, especially if it denotes insignificance or pettiness.

Can "big" describe emotions?

Yes, like big joy or big anger, indicating intensity.

How does "big" relate to age?

It can imply maturity, like a big kid.

Are there idioms using "big"?

Yes, like "big fish in a small pond."

Are there common phrases with "small"?

Certainly, such as "small talk" or "small change."
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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