Source: p 264, A Concise Introduction to Logic (12 Ed, 2014), by Patrick J. Hurley
Each of the three terms in a categorical syllogism has its own name depending on its position in the argument. The major term, by definition, is the predicate of the conclusion, and the minor term is the subject of the conclusion.
- What is 'major'/'minor' about the major term/minor term?
- How is 'the predicate of the conclusion' more major or less minor than 'the subject of the conclusion'?
I already tried to research of the etymologies of 'major' and 'minor' on OED, and the definitions of their etymons in Latin.
In use in Logic (see sense B. 1) after post-classical Latin major (from a1225 in British sources, in Grosseteste, Bacon, Ockham, Wyclif, etc.) and Middle French majour (c1354), Middle French, French majeure (from the 14th cent.).
With use as noun in logic denoting a minor premiss (see sense B. 2) compare post-classical Latin minor (feminine, from 13th cent. in British sources), Middle French mineur (feminine, 1373; French mineure, contrasted with mineur (masculine) denoting a minor term).
minor = 'lesser, inferior, smaller'
Source: p 22, With Good Reason, An Introduction to Informal Fallacies (6 ed, 2000) by Prof. S. Morris Engel PhD (Toronto)
Arguments of this type may lack either the statement of the general principle (called in logic the [M]ajor [P]remise), explicit reference to the case in question (the [M]inor [P]remise), or the inference (the conclusion).