Tell me please if the following use of the word is correct and natural.

Mike's biggest hobby is playing the guitar.

What is meant by biggest is his most favourite hobby is playing the guitar.

If it is incorrect to use the word in the context, then what is the most appropriate to use in the context?

  • This isn't a matter of "correct". It's just that at least some native speakers would think metaphorical size doesn't work very well with a target noun like hobby, so they'd be more likely to choose an alternative such as Mike's main hobby is playing the guitar. But I can't see any clear-cut reason why that should be so, given no-one would have any objections to Mike's biggest regret is selling his. I've no idea why regret seems more capable of being metaphorically "size-based" than hobby. May 19, 2019 at 15:28
  • @FumbleFingers I think regret, dream, ... etc have a fundamental or long life influence on one's life and biggest can imply the depth or vastness or a sense of great influence. However, hobby requires a sense of priority to be described. So, main and major work fine. That's my opinion though. Just saying.
    – Cardinal
    May 19, 2019 at 17:04
  • Did you find that online somewhere? Generally, we would use an adjective: favorite hobby. And to refer to the general public: most popular hobby.
    – Lambie
    May 19, 2019 at 17:04
  • 1
    @Cardinal: Not sure I agree with your "rationale" there, but it's certainly true that different classes of (particularly, abstract) nouns can accept different metaphorical references. In which context I think it's interesting that I'm only just about okay with the height-based usage his top hobby, but I have no qualms at all about his top priority. But whereas the apparently slight translation to his highest priority is also fine, his highest hobby is a complete non-starter. It's complicated, to say the least! :) May 20, 2019 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


It's not incorrect. Most dictionaries would say that big it's not just for size, but also used for something of great importance or major concern, like en.oxforddictionaries.com says:

Of considerable importance or seriousness.

‘it's a big decision’

‘his biggest problem is money’

‘he made a big mistake’

Also, it's easily to understand, then even if it was technically incorrect it would be a good use in a informational conversation. People often use big to measure other things that are not physical and doesn't have a "size", like "that guy is a big fan" not meaning the guy is big, but that he has great appreciation for something/someone or like "big eater" that would imply that the person eats a lot, and not that the person has a big size.

That said, although it's correct, you could use other words that would be more commonly used in that sentence, like: favorite or main.

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