c. 1600, "increased," past-participle adjective from augment. The musical sense of "greater by a semitone than a perfect or major interval" (opposite of diminished) is attested by 1825.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "great."
It forms all or part of: acromegaly; Almagest; Charlemagne; maestro; magisterial; magistral; magistrate; Magna Carta; magnate; magnitude; magnum; magnanimity; magnanimous; magni-; Magnificat; magnificence; magnificent; magnify; magniloquence; magniloquent; Magnus; maharajah; maharishi; mahatma; Mahayana; Maia; majesty; major; major-domo; majority; majuscule; master; maxim; maximum; may (v.2) "to take part in May Day festivities;" May; mayor; mega-; megalo-; mickle; Mister; mistral; mistress; much; omega.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Armenian mets "great;" Sanskrit mahat- "great, mazah- "greatness;" Avestan mazant- "great;" Hittite mekkish "great, large;" Greek megas "great, large;" Latin magnus "great, large, much, abundant," major "greater," maximus "greatest;" Middle Irish mag, maignech "great, large;" Middle Welsh meith "long, great."
musical note (sixth note of the diatonic scale), early 14c., see gamut. It represents the initial syllable of Latin labii "of the lips." In French and Italian it became the name of the musical note A, which is the sixth of the natural scale (C major).
major river of Europe flowing into the Black Sea (German Donau, Hungarian Duna, Russian Dunaj), from Latin Danuvius (Late Latin Danubius), from Celtic *danu(w)-yo-, from PIE *danu- "river" (compare Don, Dnieper, Dniester). Related: Danubian.
common plant used as an herb in cookery, late 14c., from Old French majorane (13c., Modern French marjolaine), from Medieval Latin maiorana, a word of uncertain origin, probably ultimately from India (compare Sanskrit maruva- "marjoram"), with form influenced by Latin major "greater."
major native tribe or confederation, originally of what is now the southeastern U.S., 1725, named for creek, the geographical feature, and abbreviated from Ochese Creek Indians, from the place in Georgia (now Ocmulgee River) where the English first encountered them. The native name is Muskogee, a word of uncertain origin.
American English name for the seven-star asterism (known in England as the plough; see Charles's Wain) in the constellation Ursa Major, 1845; attested 1833 as simply the Dipper (sometimes Great Dipper, its companion constellation always being the Little Dipper). See dipper.
in music, "third note of the diatonic scale" (the one which determines whether the scale is major or minor), 1753, from Italian mediante, from Late Latin mediantem (nominative medians) "dividing in the middle," present participle of mediare "to be in the middle," from Latin medius "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle"). So called from being midway between the tonic and the dominant.