But I don't want to be saying "It is not that big" -> it is bigger, but smaller than the usual

I want to know if there is a work of the same type as "really" that decreses the ammount of "bigness" (that's probably not a word).

For example: That is a really big midget - almost normal sized.

That is a ____ big person - a big person that is almost normal, but still bigger than the usual.

Keep in mind that I just want to know if there is a word that we can put before the adjective "big" in order to make it more or less "intensive". I'm not looking for an alternative to what I'm trying to say.

  • He is quite big.?
    – Mina
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:35
  • That is a slightly big person?
    – Pedro
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:36
  • Can't we say "That is a little big person"?
    – Pedro
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:37
  • I'm not a native speaker, but I wouldn't say that and never heard anyone saying that.
    – Pedro
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    I wasn't aware that SE allowed duplicate usernames --I thought you were arguing with yourself!
    – Chris Sunami
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 13:50

6 Answers 6


As others have pointed out, you can say "not so big" — as you just did. As others still have pointed out, you can reword to say "slightly bigger than average", or "bigger than usual" — again, as you just did.

But to actually answer your underlying general question, the word you are looking for, the one that fills the blank as the antonym of really, is somewhat. A thesaurus will offer additional synonyms, like a bit or what have you. He is somewhat big. He is a bit big. He is somewhat stupid. He is a bit stupid.

Oh, and big means "fat". You're really looking for tall there.

  • Or moderately. Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 19:46
  • I'd cay that big applied to a person means "massive" -- which may be fat, muscle, or just general substantiality.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 22:07

So far as I can make out, the most suitable "qualifier/hedge" for OP's context is...

For a midget, he's relatively tall

Exactly what constitutes the "relative" context isn't necessarily explicitly stated. For example, if I say "OP's English is relatively good" here on ELL, I probably mean good by comparison with most people who post on ELL (but probably not as good as a native speaker). But if I say the same on ELU, I'm more likely to mean good by comparison with the average native speaker (i.e. - better than most native speakers).


On the face of it, this is an easy question --a modifier like slightly or trifle should work. However, we often hear such phrases used as humorous understatement. If I said "Have you had the dessert there --it's a trifle big," one might reasonable expect that the dessert is actually huge.

A lot of this comes down to context. Usually we only point out things like size when they are exceptional, so that is the expectation unless context indicates otherwise.

"My brother is only slightly taller than average."

In this case, the only cues us that the slightly is to be taken as literal and not as humorous understatement.

  • True, but I think that would be true of almost any adjective. Any adjective could be used ironically for humor or rhetorical purposes. "That piece of cake is a little big." "That politician is very honest." Etc. In speech we can usually tell whether a literal or ironic meaning is meant by tone of voice. In writing an ironic usage is sometimes indicates with italics or other typographical distinctions -- as I did here -- or the reader is expected to realize it from context.
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 17:49

Maybe it's just where I've been (Michigan, Oregon, Alberta) but I would consider "not-so-big" to be smaller than just "big".

Personally, I would use "rather" or perhaps "kind of".

He's rather big.

He's kind of big.

Some people might object to "kind of" on principle, but "rather" is a solid choice here.

  • "kind of" (or "kinda") is informal, but it's the most natural option for my area (northeast US).
    – Axe
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 18:20
  • I agree that kinda is the go-to informal option, but there's some folks out there that have a strong distaste for it.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 20:02
  • somewhat big
  • fairly big
  • pretty big
  • moderately big

IOW, take big and stick an adjective in front of it that means a little bit or to a moderate degree.


Sure, it's "not so big" - as in your question title!

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post.
    – Vilmar
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 14:19
  • 1
    The answer to the question is "not so big"
    – Joe Blow
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 14:32
  • As in The Not So Big House, a book written by architect Sarah Susanka. She has actually trademarked the phrase "Not So Big" as it relates to her books on residential design. notsobighouse.com
    – Jasper
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 22:39

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