mag·​nan·​i·​mous mag-ˈna-nə-məs How to pronounce magnanimous (audio)
: showing or suggesting a lofty and courageous spirit
the irreproachable lives and magnanimous sufferings of their followersJoseph Addison
: showing or suggesting nobility of feeling and generosity of mind
too sincere for dissimulation, too magnanimous for resentmentEllen Glasgow
magnanimously adverb
magnanimousness noun

Did you know?

When you see anima, animus, or a similar formation in a word, it’s often an indicator of something alive, lively, or spirited. Something described as animated is full of life, for example, and the word animal refers to a living thing. The Latin word anima means “breath” or “soul” and animus means “spirit.” In magnanimous, animus is joined by the Latin word magnus, meaning “great.” Basically meaning “greatness of spirit,” magnanimity is the opposite of selfishness. A truly magnanimous person can lose without complaining and win without gloating, and angry disputes can sometimes be resolved when one side makes a magnanimous gesture toward the other.

Example Sentences

"No problem," I dismissed his concerns with a magnanimous flick of the wrist. Tom Perrotta, Joe College, 2000
… and many of them retain a respectful Eisenhower-or-Kennedy-era view of America as Japan's usually magnanimous elder brother. James Fallows, Atlantic, August 1989
… with the off-duty cops downing them as fast as he could pour, Leery could afford to be magnanimous and play the jukebox for the boys and girls. Joseph Wambaugh, The Delta Star, 1983
Levesque was magnanimous in victory, immediately reassuring English-speaking Quebecers that they were still welcome in the province, an integral part of its history. Mordecai Richler, Atlantic, June 1983
She was too magnanimous to resent all the things others had said to her. a magnanimous donation to the town's animal shelter See More
Recent Examples on the Web Now, with his own Rock Hall honor on the horizon, Taupin tells Billboard from his home in California that John’s magnanimous gesture had an unintended consequence. Gary Graff, Billboard, 4 May 2023 Of course, its unspoiled, sugar-white beaches, limestone rock formations, and world-class scuba diving in magnanimous seascapes doesn’t hurt its ratings. Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 30 Mar. 2023 But not even that example of sports fanaticism gone too far — his parents said the culprits were Yankees fans — could dim Peter’s magnanimous personality. Tara Sullivan,, 4 Mar. 2023 That’s magnanimous, Mac. Christopher L. Gasper,, 8 Jan. 2023 Even some Russian analysts suggested that Putin was hoping to avoid bad news on the holiday, while also trying to present himself as magnanimous by calling for what would be the first comprehensive cease-fire along the entire front since the start of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 5 Jan. 2023 But Grant was magnanimous in victory. Anne Marshall, The Conversation, 5 Dec. 2022 Alas, not all gods are magnanimous. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, 29 Oct. 2022 Farzard tried to be magnanimous. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 21 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'magnanimous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin magnanimus, from magnus great + animus spirit — more at much, animate

First Known Use

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of magnanimous was in 1547


Dictionary Entries Near magnanimous

Cite this Entry

“Magnanimous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


mag·​nan·​i·​mous mag-ˈnan-ə-məs How to pronounce magnanimous (audio)
: having or showing a noble and courageous spirit
: being generous and forgiving
magnanimously adverb

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