1860s, "a good deal, a large amount;" by 1878 in financial speculation, originally in California publications; see deal (n.1). As an ironic expression, popular in American English from c. 1965, perhaps a translated Yiddishism (such as a groyser kunst).
"upper reaches of a profession or pursuit," by 1909 in vaudeville slang. As an adjective by 1915. The same phrase was common in colloquial use late 19c.-early 20c. in a broad range of senses: "party, shindig, fun, frolic."
"prominent, important, first-rate," by 1925, a figurative use from baseball, where big league was used for "a major league" by 1891. See league (n.1).
children's three-in-a-row game with Xs and Os, so called by 1892, earlier tit-tat-toe (by 1852, in reminiscences of earlier years), also called noughts and crosses (1852), also oughts and crosses. Probably from the sound of the pencil on the slate with which it originally was played by schoolboys. Also the name of a children's counting rhyme played on slate (also originally tit-tat-toe, by 1842), and compare tick-tack (1580s), a form of backgammon, possibly from French trictrac, perhaps imitative of the sound of tiles on the board.
former large lake of northern Egypt, from Greek moiris, from Egyptian mer-ur "big lake," from mer "lake" + ur "big."