by and large

adverb

Definition of by and large

: on the whole : in general

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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

But by and large, SpaceX is planning to launch humans. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Space Launch Legend Who's Backing a Startup," 8 Nov. 2018 His approach is no longer the outlier but, by and large, the standard. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Chip Kelly is back on campus but can he recapture magic at UCLA?," 13 Apr. 2018 Marijuana legalization in Michigan Michigan Proposal 1 is, by and large, a standard marijuana legalization initiative. German Lopez, Vox, "The midterm elections will give some voters a chance to legalize marijuana," 6 Nov. 2018 But by and large, the male wardrobe is more monochrome than Technicolor . Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Why Men Fear Wearing Color. And the Secret to Pulling It Off.," 11 Oct. 2018 But by and large, Sean, President Trump very pleased with Judge Kavanaugh's performance today. Fox News, "Hannity: Democrats have turned SCOTUS process into a sham," 27 Sep. 2018 From therapy to education and housing, the costs associated with a child’s care and development are significant—and, by and large, those costs are the responsibility of the child’s parents. WSJ, "Work With Special-Needs Families Underscores the Value of Planning," 22 Mar. 2018 America, by and large, for better or worse, pushes relentlessly ahead. Michael J. Mooney, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Koch Brothers' Industrial Empire," 9 Oct. 2015 Naturalisation and citizenship were tightly restricted, often racially; but immigration, by and large, was not. The Economist, "America’s immigration system is broken," 28 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of by and large

1707, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

27 Dec 2018

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The first known use of by and large was in 1707

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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