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 Companies used their newfound largesse to buy back shares of their stock. Christine Romans, CNN, "Democrats need to sharpen their attacks on the Trump economy," 17 Oct. 2019 One of the largest recipients of their largesse was Pete Sessions, a Republican representative in Texas who faced an uphill battle for re-election. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "An All-American Campaign Finance Scandal," 11 Oct. 2019 Hayes’s sartorial experiments were the visual counterparts to his sonic largesse. Emily Lordi, The New Yorker, "How Isaac Hayes Changed Soul Music," 1 Oct. 2019 Among the many beneficiaries of his largesse were various cancer research institutions, which received hundreds of millions of dollars, and the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution. Bill Hewitt, Anchorage Daily News, "David Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative politics, dies at 79," 23 Aug. 2019 Most notably missing is a list of promising high-tech candidates for the pot’s largesse. The Economist, "The Europeans want their own Vision Fund to invest in tech," 31 Aug. 2019 Zhao, who has lavished his largesse on the fencing world and on Harvard, said in April the home purchase was not meant to help his son get into college. Shelley Murphy,, "The feds are looking into the sale of the Harvard fencing coach’s house," 18 June 2019 Flynn’s largesse has its roots in gleaning, a biblical instruction taken from Leviticus that admonishes farmers to leave crops for people in poverty. Alfred Lubrano,, "In Chesco, volunteer farmers grow food for neighbors in need," 5 June 2018 The dictator is remembered fondly by some of the older generation there for directing government largesse to his own ethnic group. Krista Mahr, Los Angeles Times, "Uganda’s newest attraction: Idi Amin, its dictator from the 1970s," 11 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for largesse

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

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Largesse.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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

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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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very cautious or careful

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