adjective mag·nan·i·mous \ mag-ˈna-nə-məs \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of magnanimous

1 : showing or suggesting a lofty and courageous spirit
  • the irreproachable lives and magnanimous sufferings of their followers
  • —Joseph Addison
2 : showing or suggesting nobility of feeling and generosity of mind
  • too sincere for dissimulation, too magnanimous for resentment
  • —Ellen Glasgow





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Examples of magnanimous in a Sentence

  1. "No problem," I dismissed his concerns with a magnanimous flick of the wrist. —Tom PerrottaJoe College2000
  2. … and many of them retain a respectful Eisenhower-or-Kennedy-era view of America as Japan's usually magnanimous elder brother. —James FallowsAtlanticAugust 1989
  3. … 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 WambaughThe Delta Star1983
  4. 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 RichlerAtlanticJune 1983
  5. She was too magnanimous to resent all the things others had said to her.

  6. a magnanimous donation to the town's animal shelter

Recent Examples of magnanimous from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'magnanimous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

When you see "anima," "animus," or a similar formation in a word, it's an indicator of something alive, lively, or spirited. Something "animated" is full of life, for example, and an "animal" is a living, breathing thing. The Latin word animus means "soul" or "spirit." In "magnanimous," that "animus" is joined by Latin magnus, meaning "great." Basically meaning "greatness of spirit," "magnanimity" is the opposite of pettiness. A truly magnanimous person can lose without complaining and win without gloating. Angry disputes can sometimes be resolved when one side makes a magnanimous gesture toward another.

Origin and Etymology of magnanimous

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

MAGNANIMOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of magnanimous for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing a generous and kind nature

MAGNANIMOUS Defined for Kids


adjective mag·nan·i·mous \ mag-ˈna-nə-məs \

Definition of magnanimous for Students

: generous and noble



Word Root of magnanimous

The Latin word anima, meaning “breath” or “spirit,” gives us the root anim. Words from the Latin anima have something to do with having breath or spirit. An animal is a living creature that breathes and can move around on its own. To animate something is to give it breath or life. Someone magnanimous has a courageous spirit.

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to grant as a privilege or special favor

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