by and large


Definition of by and large

: on the whole : in general

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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 as 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 After gaining a baseline for where the technology is today, the focus of a tech DD review will, by and large, be very similar to the questions addressed in a strategic review. Bernard Fraenkel, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 According to the researchers, an additional 90 galaxies with less extreme heat-to-light ratios warrant further study but, by and large, the results are null. Lee Billings, Scientific American, 17 Apr. 2015 Meredith Blake is by and large number one, but Lisa Luder has her moments. Keaton Bell, Vogue, 27 Apr. 2022 Although the final tally by and large confirmed pre-election polls, that doesn’t mean that there were no surprises. Arthur Goldhammer, The New Republic, 11 Apr. 2022 Rachel Reeves, a spokesperson for the American Health Care Association, cited the inspector general's audit as proof that facilities, by and large, complied with COVID-19 reporting requirements. Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY, 15 Apr. 2022 One caveat to that is the fact that BTS’ fans tend to by and large follow the rules and are a rather exemplary fandom, as far as these things go. Andy Meek, BGR, 22 Mar. 2022 And by and large, there haven’t been any crises and that’s because the numbers are down and because probably a lot of these kids have antibodies and don’t know it. Zareen Syed,, 14 Mar. 2022 With the needs of the industry top of mind, metro Detroit restaurateurs in 2021, by and large, are sifting through the rubble and responding with business models that aim to forge a healthier, more sustainable future. Lyndsay C. Green, Detroit Free Press, 7 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of by and large

1707, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of by and large was in 1707

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Dictionary Entries Near by and large

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by and large

by a nose

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Statistics for by and large

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“By and large.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on by and large

Nglish: Translation of by and large for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of by and large for Arabic Speakers


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