1. Greater than others in importance or rank: a major artist.
2. Great in scope or effect: a major improvement.
3. Great in number, size, or extent: the major portion of the population.
4. Requiring great attention or concern; very serious: a major illness.
5. Law Legally recognized as having reached the age of adulthood.
6. Of or relating to the field of academic study in which a student specializes.
a. Designating a scale or mode having half steps between the third and fourth and the seventh and eighth degrees.
b. Equivalent to the distance between the tonic note and the second or third or sixth or seventh degrees of a major scale or mode: a major interval.
c. Based on a major scale: a major key.
a. A commissioned rank in the US Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps that is above captain and below lieutenant colonel.
b. One who holds this rank or a similar rank in another military organization.
2. One that is superior in rank, importance, or ability: an oil-producing country considered as one of the majors.
3. Law One recognized by the law as having reached the age of adulthood.
a. A field of study chosen as an academic specialty.
b. A student specializing in such studies: a linguistics major.
a. A major premise.
b. A major term.
a. A major scale, key, interval, or mode.
b. A chord containing a major third between the first and second notes and a minor third between the second and third notes.
7. majors Sports The major leagues.
intr.v. ma·jored, ma·jor·ing, ma·jors
To pursue academic studies in a major: majoring in mathematics.
[Middle English majour, from Latin māior; see meg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.