use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

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:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

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.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

e·nor·mous (ĭ-nôrməs)
Share:
adj.
1.
a. Very great in size, extent, or amount.
b. Very great in scope or import: enormous influence.
2. Archaic Very wicked; heinous.

[From Latin ēnormis, unusual, huge, monstrous : ē-, ex-, ex- + norma, norm; see gnō- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots. Sense 2, from Middle English enormious, from Latin ēnormis.]

e·normous·ly adv.
e·normous·ness n.

Synonyms: enormous, immense, huge, gigantic, colossal, mammoth, tremendous, gargantuan, vast
These adjectives describe what is extraordinarily large. Enormous suggests a marked excess beyond the norm in size, amount, or degree: an enormous boulder.
Immense refers to boundless or immeasurable size or extent: an immense sky.
Huge especially implies greatness of size or capacity: a huge tanker.
Gigantic refers to size likened to that of a giant: a gigantic redwood tree.
Colossal suggests a hugeness that elicits awe or taxes belief: a valley ringed by colossal mountains.
Mammoth is applied to something of unwieldy hugeness: "mammoth stone figures in ... buckled eighteenth-century pumps, the very soles of which seem mountainously tall" (Cynthia Ozick).
Tremendous suggests awe-inspiring or fearsome size: a tremendous waterfall.
Gargantuan stresses greatness of size or capacity and often suggests extravagance or excess: "Dense schools of menhaden ... slurp up enormous quantities of plankton and detritus like gargantuan vacuum cleaners" (H. Bruce Franklin).
Vast refers to greatness of extent, size, area, or scope, and is often applied to what inspires a sense of grandeur or awe: "Another vast mountain of darkness rose, towering up like a wave that should engulf the world" (J.R.R. Tolkien).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.