Brilliant vs. Great: What's the Difference?
Brilliant refers to intense brightness or exceptional clarity and intelligence, while Great denotes extensive magnitude, amount, or degree.
"Brilliant" often refers to something that shines brightly, illuminates with exceptional clarity, or exhibits intellectual prowess. It is frequently used to describe dazzling lights, sparkling gems, or sharp and incisive intellects. Conversely, "Great" is a broad adjective used to denote something extensive in amount, degree, or size, such as great distance, great happiness, or great power. The essence of brilliance usually entails a luminous glow or exceptional mental acuity, while greatness encompasses magnitude or superior quality.
The term "brilliant" conveys a sense of radiance or extraordinary luminosity, often associated with light or color. It can describe a diamond's luminous sparkle or an idea's outstanding clarity and innovativeness. In comparison, "great" may indicate substantial magnitude or superior quality, expressing admiration for achievements, skills, or attributes. While brilliant leans more towards radiance and intellect, great implies volume, quality, and admiration, with a wide-ranging application.
For instance, a brilliant mind is one that has exceptional intelligence and cognitive abilities, characterized by swift and sharp reasoning. Here, brilliance stands for the pinnacle of intellectual prowess. In contrast, a great person may be one who has impacted many lives positively, showing kindness, leadership, or moral virtue. Greatness, in this sense, is about influence, moral standing, and the depth of one's positive impact on others.
A brilliant display, often imbued with vivid and radiant colors, attracts attention due to its intense luminosity and vibrancy. It represents a visually stunning spectacle of light and color. However, a great achievement is recognized for its substantial impact, significant effort, and outstanding results. It denotes accomplishments that are noteworthy for their scale and impact, reflecting the extensive reach of greatness.
In summary, "brilliant" predominantly emphasizes luminosity, intellectual sharpness, and clarity, often signifying a standout quality in terms of brightness or intellect. "Great," on the other hand, is versatile, representing high degree, large amount, or superior quality in various contexts, highlighting magnitude, excellence, or impact.
Exceptional clarity or intelligence.
Extensive magnitude or superior quality.
Often related to light or intellect.
Broadly used in various contexts.
More specific, relating to luminosity or sharpness.
More general, encompassing various qualities.
Degree of Praise
High, often in intellect or appearance.
High, can refer to size, quality, amount, etc.
Typically, light, color, and intellect.
Virtually any context from size to moral virtue.
Brilliant and Great Definitions
Brilliant refers to shining brightly with a lot of light.
The brilliant sun made it hard to see.
Great refers to something of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above average.
He has a great understanding of the subject.
Brilliant can describe something dazzling or striking.
The fireworks created a brilliant display in the sky.
Great can denote someone of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above average.
Alexander the Great was a renowned ruler.
Full of light; shining.
Great is used to emphasize the degree of something.
There is a great need for change.
Relating to or being a hue that has a combination of high lightness and strong saturation.
Great can also express admiration or approval.
What a great idea!
Sharp and clear in tone
A recording with brilliant sound.
Great signifies something much higher than usual in degree or intensity.
There was a great variety of options.
The brilliant court life at Versailles.
Very large in size, extent, or intensity
A great pile of rubble.
A great storm.
The soloist gave a brilliant performance.
Of a larger size than other, similar forms
The great anteater.
Having or showing unusual and impressive intelligence
A brilliant mind.
A brilliant solution to the problem.
Large in quantity or number
A great throng awaited us.
A precious gem, especially a diamond, finely cut in any of various forms with numerous facets.
Extensive in time or distance
A great delay.
A great way off.
The brilliant lights along the promenade
Remarkable or outstanding in magnitude, degree, or extent
A great crisis.
(of a colour) Both bright and saturated.
Butterflies with brilliant blue wings
Of outstanding significance or importance
A great work of art.
(of a voice or sound) Having a sharp, clear tone
Chief or principal
The great house on the estate.
(British) Of surpassing excellence.
The actor's performance in the play was simply brilliant.
Superior in quality or character; noble
A great man who dedicated himself to helping others.
(British) Magnificent or wonderful.
One of the great nations of the West.
She is a brilliant scientist.
A great leader.
A finely cut gemstone, especially a diamond, cut in a particular form with numerous facets so as to maximize light return through the top (called "table") of the stone.
Very good; first-rate
We had a great time at the dance.
The size of type between excelsior and diamond, standardized as 4-point.
She is great at algebra.
Most hummingbird species of the genus Heliodoxa.
A great lover of music.
A kind of cotton goods, figured on the weaving.
Being one generation removed from the relative specified. Often used in combination
Sparkling with luster; glittering; very bright; as, a brilliant star.
Distinguished by qualities which excite admiration; splendid; shining; as, brilliant talents.
Washington was more solicitous to avoid fatal mistakes than to perform brilliant exploits.
Pl. greats or great One that is great
A composer considered among the greats.
Exceedingly intelligent, or of distinguished accomplishment in a field; - as, a brilliant chemist.
A division of most pipe organs, usually containing the most powerful ranks of pipes.
A diamond or other gem of the finest cut, formed into faces and facets, so as to reflect and refract the light, by which it is rendered more brilliant. It has at the middle, or top, a principal face, called the table, which is surrounded by a number of sloping facets forming a bizet; below, it has a small face or collet, parallel to the table, connected with the girdle by a pavilion of elongated facets. It is thus distinguished from the rose diamond, which is entirely covered with facets on the surface, and is flat below.
This snuffbox - on the hinge see brilliants shine.
A similar division of other organs.
The smallest size of type used in England printing.
Got along great with the teacher.
A kind of cotton goods, figured on the weaving.
Used as an intensive with certain adjectives
A great big kiss.
Of surpassing excellence;
A brilliant performance
A superb actor
(augmentative) Large, senior high-ranking, intense, extreme, or exceptional
Having or marked by unusual and impressive intelligence;
Some men dislike brainy women
A brilliant mind
A brilliant solution to the problem
Relatively large in scale, size, extent, number (i.e. having many parts or members) or duration (i.e. relatively long); very big.
A great storm is approaching our shores.
A great assembly
A great wait
Characterized by or attended with brilliance or grandeur;
The brilliant court life at Versailles
A glorious work of art
The splendid coronation ceremony
Title referring to an important leader.
Alexander the Great
Having striking color;
A bird with vivid plumage
Of larger size or more importance than others of its kind.
The great auk
Full of light; shining intensely;
A brilliant star
(informal) Very good; excellent; wonderful; fantastic.
Dinner was great.
Clear and sharp and ringing;
The bright sound of the trumpet section
The brilliant sound of the trumpets
Intensifying a word or expression, used in mild oaths.
A dirty great smack in the face
Brilliant means having or showing exceptional intelligence.
She is brilliant in mathematics.
(qualifying nouns of family relationship) Involving more generations than the qualified word implies — as many extra generations as repetitions of the word great (from 1510s). [see Derived terms]
Great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather
Brilliant also refers to exceptional clarity of color.
The gemstone had a brilliant blue hue.
Pregnant; large with young; full of.
Great with child
Great with hope
Brilliant denotes outstanding or extraordinary.
That was a brilliant performance!
Extreme or more than usual.
Of significant importance or consequence; important.
A great decision
(applied to actions, thoughts and feelings) Arising from or possessing idealism; admirable; superior; commanding; heroic; illustrious; eminent.
A great deed
A great nature
A great history
Impressive or striking.
A great show of wealth
Much in use; favoured.
Poetry was a great convention of the Romantic era.
(applied to persons) Endowed with extraordinary powers; of exceptional talents or achievements; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; remarkable; strong; powerful; mighty; noble.
A great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, writer etc.
Doing or exemplifying (a characteristic or pursuit) on a large scale; active or enthusiastic.
What a great buffoon!
He's not a great one for reading.
A great walker
(often followed by 'at') Skilful or adroit.
A great carpenter
You are great at singing.
Expression of gladness and content about something.
Great! Thanks for the wonderful work.
Sarcastic inversion thereof.
Oh, great! I just dumped all 500 sheets of the manuscript all over and now I have to put them back in order.
A person of major significance, accomplishment or acclaim.
Newton and Einstein are two of the greats of the history of science.
(music) The main division in a pipe organ, usually the loudest division.
(in combinations such as "two-greats", "three-greats" etc.) An instance of the word "great" signifying an additional generation in phrases expressing family relationships.
My three-greats grandmother.
(informal) Very well in a very satisfactory manner.
Those mechanical colored pencils work great because they don't have to be sharpened.
Large in space; of much size; big; immense; enormous; expanded; - opposed to small and little; as, a great house, ship, farm, plain, distance, length.
Large in number; numerous; as, a great company, multitude, series, etc.
Long continued; lengthened in duration; prolonged in time; as, a great while; a great interval.
Superior; admirable; commanding; - applied to thoughts, actions, and feelings.
Endowed with extraordinary powers; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; strong; powerful; mighty; noble; as, a great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, etc.
Holding a chief position; elevated: lofty: eminent; distinguished; foremost; principal; as, great men; the great seal; the great marshal, etc.
He doth object I am too great of birth.
Entitled to earnest consideration; weighty; important; as, a great argument, truth, or principle.
Pregnant; big (with young).
The ewes great with young.
More than ordinary in degree; very considerable in degree; as, to use great caution; to be in great pain.
We have allGreat cause to give great thanks.
Older, younger, or more remote, by single generation; - often used before grand to indicate one degree more remote in the direct line of descent; as, great-grandfather (a grandfather's or a grandmother's father), great-grandson, etc.
The whole; the gross; as, a contract to build a ship by the great.
Relatively large in size or number or extent; larger than others of its kind;
A great juicy steak
A great multitude
The great auk
A great old oak
A great ocean liner
A great delay
More than usual;
(used of persons) standing above others in character or attainment or reputation;
Our distinguished professor
An eminent scholar
A great statesman
Of major significance or importance;
A great work of art
Einstein was one of the outstanding figures of the 20th century
Remarkable or out of the ordinary in degree or magnitude or effect;
A great crisis
Had a great stake in the outcome
He did a bully job
A neat sports car
Had a great time at the party
You look simply smashing
Many medieval manuscripts are in majuscule script
Marked by active interest and enthusiasm;
An avid sports fan
A great walker
An eager beaver
In an advanced stage of pregnancy;
Was big with child
Was great with child
Does brilliant only refer to intelligence?
No, brilliant can also refer to intense brightness, exceptional clarity, and outstanding quality.
Can great describe magnitude or size?
Yes, great is often used to denote extensive magnitude, amount, or degree.
Can brilliant describe a spectacle of light and color?
Yes, brilliant often describes visually striking displays of light and color.
Can an idea be brilliant?
Yes, ideas can be brilliant if they show exceptional clarity or inventiveness.
Is brilliant used to describe color?
Yes, brilliant can refer to exceptional clarity and vividness of color.
Can great be used to describe average intensity or degree?
No, great typically denotes a high level of intensity or degree.
Does brilliant have a connotation of sharpness?
Yes, brilliant often connotes sharpness, especially in intellectual contexts.
Can great be used to describe intelligence?
Yes, great can be used to describe above-average intelligence, among other things.
Does a brilliant person always have high intellectual abilities?
Typically, but brilliant can also describe other standout qualities.
Can great represent moral virtue?
Yes, great can denote superior moral virtue and nobility.
Is great synonymous with large?
It can be, as great often denotes considerable size or amount.
Can a brilliant display be unnoticeable?
Typically no, as brilliant often means dazzling or striking.
Can something be brilliant without shining brightly?
Yes, brilliant can also refer to exceptional quality or intelligence, not just bright shining.
Can something be great without being above average in quality?
Typically, great implies a level of quality, ability, or eminence considerably above average.
Is greatness measurable?
It can be subjective, depending on the context, but some aspects of greatness may be measurable.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera 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.