No matter how many times you see a type of bird, seeing it again is still the greatest thrill.
We, his readers, were his greatest, most pressing assignment.
Gombrowicz is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.
The greatest victims of Southern conservatism have always been the majority of Southerners of all races.
The greatest threat to our economy is confused thinking by an influential few.
"Here's a go," murmured Gustavus in the greatest trepidation.
While a Treasury surplus is not the greatest evil, it is a serious evil.
The wood is very hard, heavy, and is split with the greatest difficulty.
The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.
At first navigation was beset with the greatest difficulties.
Old English great "big, tall, thick, stout; coarse," from West Germanic *grautaz "coarse, thick" (cf. Old Saxon grot, Old Frisian grat, Dutch groot, German groß "great").
Said to have meant originally "big in size, coarse," and, if so, perhaps from PIE root *ghreu- "to rub, grind." It took over much of the sense of Middle English mickle, and is now largely superseded by big and large except for non-material things.
As a prefix to terms denoting "kinship one degree further removed" (early 15c., earliest attested use is in great uncle) it is from the similar use of French grand, itself used as the equivalent of Latin magnus. An Old English way of saying "great-grandfather" was þridda fæder, literally "third father."
In the sense of "excellent, wonderful" great is attested from 1848. Great White Way "Broadway in New York City" is from 1901. Great Spirit "high deity of the North American Indians," 1703, originally translates Ojibwa kitchi manitou. The Great War originally (1887) referred to the Napoleonic Wars, later (1914) to what we now call World War I (see world).
"The Great War" -- as, until the fall of France, the British continued to call the First World War in order to avoid admitting to themselves that they were now again engaged in a war of the same magnitude. [Arnold Toynbee, "Experiences," 1969]Also formerly with a verb form, Old English greatian, Middle English greaten "to become larger, increase, grow; become visibly pregnant," which became archaic after 17c.
Excellent; wonderful: Hey, that's really great (1848+)
A famous person, esp an athlete or entertainer: Weiss, a former football ''great'' (1400+)