Definition and background:
Under the Helmholtz Octave Designation System, a name applied to the octave which extends from C below the bass clef staff to B on the bass clef staff. The notes are indicated by uppercase letters ( C, D, E, F, G, A, and B). This octave can also be designated with one uppercase letter (i.e. C) or in the 2nd octave under Acoustical Society of America system (i.e. C 2). The MIDI Octave Designation System has two versions, one where note 1 (8.176 Hz) is octave "0" making the Great octave the third octave (i.e. C3), and the other with note 1 (8.176 Hz) at octave "-2" making the Great octave the first octave (i.e. C1). The indication 8vb (shown below) can be used to represent the same pitches without as many ledger lines.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary