views updated May 11 2018

big / big/ • adj. (big·ger, big·gest) 1. of considerable size, extent, or intensity: big hazel eyes big cuts in staff. ∎  of a large or the largest size: my big toe. ∎  grown up: I'm a big girl now. ∎  elder: my big sister. ∎  inf. doing a specified action very often or on a very large scale: a big eater. ∎ inf. on an ambitiously large scale: a small company with big plans. ∎ inf. popular or exciting interest among the public: Latino bands that are big in Los Angeles. ∎  showing great enthusiasm: a big tennis fan he tells me the Inuits of the Arctic are very big on Jim Reeves.2. of considerable importance or seriousness: it's a big decision Mark's biggest problem is money he made a big mistake. ∎ inf. holding an important position or playing an influential role: as a senior in college, he was a big man on campus.3. inf. often ironic generous: “I'm inclined to take pity on you.” “That's big of you!”• n. (the bigs) inf. the major league in a professional sport.PHRASES: big bucks inf. large amounts of money, esp. as pay or profit: Emily earns big bucks on Wall Street.big idea chiefly ironic a clever or important intention or scheme: okay, what's the big idea?big screen inf. the movies: the play was adapted for the big screen. big shot (also big noise) inf. an important or influential person.go over big inf. have a great effect; be a success: the story went over big with the a big way inf. on a large scale; with great enthusiasm: he contributed to the project in a big way.make it big inf. become very successful or famous: Simon had made it big in the financial big inf. talk confidently or boastfully.think big inf. be ambitious.too big for one's britches (or breeches) inf. conceited.DERIVATIVES: big·gish adj.big·ness n.


views updated May 17 2018

big Big Apple an informal name for New York City.
big bang the explosion of dense matter which according to current cosmological theories marked the origin of the universe. In the beginning a fireball of radiation at extremely high temperature and density, but occupying a tiny volume, is believed to have formed. This expanded and cooled, extremely fast at first, but more slowly as subatomic particles condensed into matter which later accumulated to form galaxies and stars. The galaxies are currently still retreating from one another. What was left of the original radiation continued to cool and has been detected as a uniform background of weak microwave radiation.

In the UK, Big Bang is the name given to the introduction in 1986 of major changes in trading in the Stock Exchange, principally involving widening of membership, relaxation of rules for brokers, and computerization.
Big Ben is the great clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London and its bell, named after Sir Benjamin Hall (1802–67), commissioner of public works at the time of its construction; Big Ben was designed by the English lawyer and mechanician Edmund Beckett, Lord Grimthorpe (1816–1905).
Big Bend National Park a US national park in a bend of the Rio Grande, in the desert lands of southern Texas on the border with Mexico, in which were discovered, in 1975, fossil remains of the pterosaur.
Big Brother a person or organization exercising total control over people's lives, from the head of state in George Orwell's novel 1984 (1949); his apparently benevolent but actually ruthlessly omnipotent rule is summed up by the slogan, ‘Big Brother is watching you.’

In 2000, Big Brother became the name of a television game show in which selected contestants shared a house and were monitored by video camera. Each week one person was voted out of the house by the viewing public, and the winner was the last contestant to remain.
big cheese an important person. The phrase dates from the 1920s, and cheese probably comes via Urdu from Persian čīz ‘thing’; the cheese was used earlier to mean ‘first-rate’ (i.e. the thing).
big fish eat little fish the rich and powerful are likely to prey on those who are less strong, and often used with the implication that each predator is in turn victim to a stronger one. Recorded from the late 12th century.
big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite them, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum every apparently strong person is fed on and irritated by those who are weaker, and that they in turn have their own parasites. The saying comes originally from Jonathan Swift's ‘On Poetry’ (1733).
Big Smoke an informal term for London; also called the Smoke.
big stick a display of force or power, especially in international diplomacy; the phrase is associated particularly with Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), who recommended, ‘walk softly, and carry a big stick.’
big tent used in reference to a political party's policy of permitting or encouraging a broad spectrum of views among its members. The big tent is recorded from the 1990s as a slogan used by the American Republican Party.
big white chief an important person, the senior member of a group; the name is a humorous one modelled on the supposed speech of American Indians.

See also bigger, a big fish in a small pond, the big picture.


views updated May 14 2018

Big ★★★½ 1988 (PG)

13 year old Josh makes a wish at a carnival fortuneteller to be “big.” When he wakes up the next morning he finds that he suddenly won't fit into his clothes and his mother doesn't recognize him. Until he finds a cure, he must learn to live in the adult world—complete with job (in a toy firm), Manhattan apartment, and romance. Perkins is wonderful as a cynical fellow employee who warms to the new guy's naivete, while Hanks is totally believable as the little boy inside a man's body. Marshall directs with authority and the whole thing clicks from the beginning. 98m/C VHS, DVD . Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, John Heard, Robert Loggia, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Jon Lovitz, Mercedes Ruehl; D: Penny Marshall; W: Gary Ross; C: Michael Ballhaus; M: Howard Shore. Golden Globes '89: Actor—Mus./Comedy (Hanks); L.A. Film Critics '88: Actor (Hanks).


views updated May 29 2018

big †strong, stout XIII; of great bulk XVI. The earliest exx. are from northerly texts; of unkn. orig., possibly Scand.