lar·​gesse | \ lär-ˈzhes How to pronounce largesse (audio) , lär-ˈjes How to pronounce largesse (audio) also ˈlär-ˌjes \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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 American shareholders, by contrast, have come to expect such largesse. The Economist, "Buybacks, not buying banks UniCredit promises cash for shareholders—and no takeovers," 3 Dec. 2019 That largesse has earned him plenty of goodwill among liberals. NBC News, "Who has more to fear from Bloomberg: The Democrats or Trump?," 25 Nov. 2019 Some states with relatively few cases have been able to reopen their economies faster and have more options on how to spend the federal largesse. Geoff Mulvihill, The Christian Science Monitor, "Federal aid: Should payouts match COVID-19 numbers?," 6 May 2020 So there were dozens of offspring to mourn her death and, four months later, wonder at the misdirected federal largesse. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Dallas woman marked 'deceased’ on stimulus check got $1,200 from Uncle Sam four months after she died," 30 Apr. 2020 As the extent of COVID-19 cases and deaths at nursing homes receives more attention, the industry’s political largesse is also attracting scrutiny. oregonlive, "Coronavirus in Oregon (April 20): Rural counties with fewer cases seek social distancing relief," 20 Apr. 2020 On a crassly political level, the states need federal largesse and leadership. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Breaking bread: New York, California governors win in newfound ‘mutual respect’ with Trump," 24 Mar. 2020 Despite the largesse, there are concerns that millions of people will still fall through the cracks. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, March 18," 18 Mar. 2020 This outpouring has presented new challenges for a country more accustomed to handing out largesse to needier nations than to being the recipient of it. Isabella Kwai,, "Donations are pouring into Australia. Now what?," 18 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about largesse

Time Traveler for largesse

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about largesse

Statistics for largesse

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Largesse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for largesse


How to pronounce largesse (audio) How to pronounce largesse (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on largesse

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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