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big time

Informal. the highest or most important level in any profession or occupation:
She's a talented violinist, but she's not ready for the big time.
Slang. a very good time.
Theater. (in vaudeville) any highly successful circuit of theaters that produces two performances daily.
Origin of big time
1860-65, Americanism
Related forms
big-time, adjective
big-timer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for big-time
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • big-time Caribbean piracy had grown from very respectable origins.

    The Syndic C.M. Kornbluth
  • You know—a feeling like a try-out before a big-time manager.

    Believe You Me! Nina Wilcox Putnam
  • Sherwoods are big-time people, you know; a sister who's a regular somebody.

  • Krasnow is a big-time operator; I've always been, you might say, in the peanut end of the game.

    Back to Julie Richard Wilson
  • No one rejoiced more than they when they learned that he was at last in the big-time circuit.

British Dictionary definitions for big-time

big time

  1. the big time, the highest or most profitable level of an occupation or profession, esp the entertainment business
  2. (as modifier): a big-time comedian
Derived Forms
big-timer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for big-time

big time


"upper reaches of a profession or pursuit," c.1910 from vaudeville slang; the phrase was common in colloquial use late 19c.-early 20c. in a broad range of senses: "party, shindig, fun, frolic."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for big-time

big time


Important; notable: My book was big-time (1910+)


Very much; totally: Where does it say that a congressman has the right to be on the take big time?/ It sticks big-time to any smooth surface (1970s+ Army)

[ultimately fr the outdated theater sense]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with big-time

big time

An enjoyable or exciting time, as in The children came home exhausted but happy; they really had a big time at the circus. [ Mid-1800s ]
The highest or most important level in any enterprise, as in I knew that when I made it through the last audition, I was finally in the big time. [ ; c. 1900 ]
Also see: big league
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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