(in folklore) a being with human form but superhuman size, strength, etc.
a person or thing of unusually great size, power, importance, etc.; major figure; legend: a giant in her field; an intellectual giant.
(often initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. any of the Gigantes.
Mining. monitor ( def 12 ).
Astronomy, giant star.
unusually large, great, or strong; gigantic; huge.
greater or more eminent than others.

1250–1300; Middle English geant < Old French < Latin gigant- (stem of gigās) < Greek Gígās; replacing Old English gigant < Latin, as above

giantlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To giant
World English Dictionary
giant (ˈdʒaɪənt)
1.  Also (feminine): giantess a mythical figure of superhuman size and strength, esp in folklore or fairy tales
2.  a person or thing of exceptional size, reputation, etc: a giant in nuclear physics
3.  Greek myth any of the large and powerful offspring of Uranus (sky) and Gaea (earth) who rebelled against the Olympian gods but were defeated in battle
4.  pathol a person suffering from gigantism
5.  astronomy See giant star
6.  mining another word for monitor
7.  remarkably or supernaturally large
8.  architect another word for colossal
[C13: from Old French geant, from Vulgar Latin gagās (unattested), from Latin gigās, gigant-, from Greek]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. geant, from V.L. *gagantem (nom. gagas), from L. gigas "giant," from Gk. gigas (gen. gigantos), one of a race of savage beings, sons of Gaia and Uranus, eventually destroyed by the gods, probably from a pre-Gk. language. Replaced O.E. ent, eoten. The Gk. word was used in Septuagint
to refer to men of great size and strength, hence the expanded use in modern languages. Gigantic (1610s) replaced earlier gigantine.
"In þat tyme wer here non hauntes Of no men bot of geauntes." [Wace's Chronicle, c.1330]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


in folklore, huge mythical being, usually humanlike in form. The term derives (through Latin) from the Giants (Gigantes) of Greek mythology, who were monstrous, savage creatures often depicted with men's bodies terminating in serpentine legs. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, they were sons of Ge ("Earth") and Uranus ("Heaven"). The Gigantomachy was a desperate struggle between the Giants and the Olympians. The gods finally prevailed through the aid of Heracles the archer, and the Giants were slain. Many of them were believed to lie buried under mountains and to indicate their presence by volcanic fires and earthquakes. The Gigantomachy became a popular artistic theme (found, for example, on the frieze adorning the great altar at Pergamum), and it was interpreted as a symbol of the triumph of Hellenism over barbarism, of good over evil.

Learn more about giant with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Print detailed illustrations of giant tree frogs and other animals to color or
  use in school projects.
Don your costume and strut through town with masqueraders and giant puppets.
Professionals quickly confirmed the sighting and started aiming their powerful
  telescopes at the gas giant.
Conventional wisdom says that forests prevent flooding by acting as giant
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature