by and large


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

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 Someone needs to assure the public that, by and large, the players that fans are paying to watch are competing not amid a tsunami, but in sunlight. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: Adding Some Much-Needed Context to the Report On Corruption Within Tennis," 2 May 2018 Spoelstra was, by and large, pleased with how Adebayo acquitted himself Saturday. Adam H. Beasley And Manny Navarro, miamiherald, "Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo 'did OK' in playoff debut, but much more is needed | Miami Herald," 16 Apr. 2018 And by and large, the federal government has done little, through either formal investigations or indictments, to enforce the legislation — until today, that is, but more on that later. Alexandra Mondalek, Vox, "Fake turquoise jewelry is hurting Native Americans economically," 24 Oct. 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

19 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for by and large

The first known use of by and large was in 1707

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an act or instance of returning to life

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