lar·​gesse | \ lär-ˈzhes How to pronounce largesse (audio) , lär-ˈjes also ˈlär-ˌjes How to pronounce largesse (audio) \
variants: or less commonly largess

Definition of largesse

1 : liberal giving (as of money) to or as if to an inferior a philanthropist known for his largesse also : something so given projects depending on a flow of federal largesse
2 : generosity his generosity of spirit, an absolutely natural largesse— Harvey Breit

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Did You Know?

The word largesse, which also can be spelled "largess" (as in our second example sentence), has been part of the English language since at least the 13th century. It derives via Anglo-French from the Latin word largus, meaning "abundant" or "generous." "Largus" is also the source of our word large. As far back as the 14th century, we used the word largeness as a synonym of "largesse" ("liberal giving"). In fact, that may have been the first sense of "largeness," which has since come to refer to physical magnitude and bulk more often than to magnanimity.

Examples of largesse in a Sentence

He relied on the largesse of friends after he lost his job.

Recent Examples on the Web

Beijing’s largesse to Africa has sometimes seemed limitless (see chart). The Economist, "China is thinking twice about lending to Africa," 29 June 2019 Cal State did not come clean about the largesse, according to the audit, which looked at spending between 2008 and 2018. Teresa Watanabe,, "That mysterious $1.5 billion found in an audit? Cal State says it’s ‘nothing nefarious’," 21 June 2019 But a Democratic president might see the largesse in the NASA budget for deep-space exploration vehicles, observe the public's preference for protecting Earth, and rearrange the budget accordingly. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Americans aren’t interested in the Moon and Mars—and that’s understandable," 20 June 2019 Meanwhile, many museums and other cultural institutions that have benefited from Sackler largesse — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City — have pledged not to take any more money from the family. Globe Staff,, "Sackler family member tells magazine that Purdue Pharma didn’t cause opioid crisis," 19 June 2019 The complicated money flow — and lack of oversight — put Burke in the enviable position of being able to dispense favors and largesse to other aldermen. Mick Dumke, ProPublica, "At Chicago’s City Council, Committees Are Used to Reward Political Favors and Fund Patronage," 15 May 2019 Who would benefit from Shuler’s largesse this year? Cassie Owens,, "Not your parents' prom: Inside Philly's elaborate send-off culture," 8 June 2018 The workers pocketing four-figure bonuses from the parade of corporations sharing their largesse might answer one way. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: You're not the only one confused about when the tax overhaul takes effect," 11 Jan. 2018 The video -- which featured Bad Boy’s kiddie counterparts frolicing in largesse -- was an innocently sentimental touch. Brian Josephs, Billboard, "The Notorious B.I.G.'s 25 Best Songs: Critic's Picks," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'largesse.' 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 largesse

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for largesse

Middle English largesse, from Anglo-French, from large

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Statistics for largesse

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for largesse

The first known use of largesse was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for largesse



English Language Learners Definition of largesse

somewhat formal : the act of giving away money or the quality of a person who gives away money also : money that is given away

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More from Merriam-Webster on largesse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for largesse

Spanish Central: Translation of largesse

Nglish: Translation of largesse for Spanish Speakers

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