by and large

adverb

Definition of by and large

: on the whole : in general

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

By and large is originally a sailing term meaning "alternately close-hauled and not close-hauled." A ship that is sailing "close-hauled" is sailing as directly into the wind as possible (typically within about 45 degrees of the wind). The "by" part of the phrase means "close-hauled." (This "by" also appears in the term full and by, meaning "sailing with all sails full and close to the wind as possible.") "Large," by contrast, refers to a point of sail in which the wind is hitting the boat "abaft the beam," or behind the boat's widest point. A 1669 example of a variant spelling of "by and large" gives us a sense of the range implied: "Thus you see the ship handled in fair weather and foul, by and learge" (S. Sturmy, Mariners Magazine). The suggestion of a wide range carries over into the term's "in general" sense.

Examples of by and large in a Sentence

by and large, that information is accurate

Recent Examples on the Web

That’s because hip-hop is the one realm in which the use of songwriters is still, by and large, considered sacrilege. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "How “Songland” Tries and Fails to Honor the Songwriter," 11 June 2019 Five years later, legislatures and school boards from San Diego to Cincinnati are opting, by and large, to hit the snooze button — and reap the rewards. Zach Schermele, Teen Vogue, "Starting School Later Can Drastically Improve Students' Lives," 9 May 2019 The people in the Congress did not by and large run on building the wall and funding it. Fox News, "Kellyanne Conway on the spending bill, funding for the wall," 24 Mar. 2018 Museums, by and large, see themselves as serving the public interest by providing the platform for such debates. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "‘Open Casket’ and the Question of Empathy," 28 Mar. 2017 But the system by and large favors kids who know financing their college education won’t be an issue, further disadvantaging low-income students in a process that already sidelines them. James Wellemeyer, Teen Vogue, "Applying to College Early Is a Privilege Not Every Student Can Afford," 20 Mar. 2019 This can be accomplished, by and large, through thoughtful design. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Build a Budget-Friendly at-Home Gym With These Tips From Celebrity Trainer Erin Oprea," 18 Nov. 2018 But just demanding savings in an industry that by and large understands its challenges won’t create much value. Carol Ryan, WSJ, "What Kraft Heinz’s Mess Means for Rivals and Investors," 22 Feb. 2019 There are lots of animals (mostly his own) and bright colors, but he's kept the palette narrowed by and large to tropical fruits, from pale lemon to blood orange, persimmon and pomegranate, with touches of Caribbean blue. Beth Dunlop, ELLE Decor, "For the Fun of It," 8 Feb. 2010

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'by and large.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of by and large

1707, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about by and large

Listen to Our Podcast about by and large

Statistics for by and large

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for by and large

The first known use of by and large was in 1707

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on by and large

What made you want to look up by and large? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!