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.

Examples of magnanimous in a Sentence

"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
Recent Examples on the Web At this moment in time, Christensen remains magnanimous about it all. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 June 2024 And xenophobia and repression in the name of national stability—whether toward African migrants in Guangzhou, Central Asian minorities in Xinjiang, or ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong—have given the lie to Chinese efforts to project a benevolent and magnanimous image. Jessica Chen Weiss, Foreign Affairs, 16 July 2020 Comegys came off just as magnanimous, and in a way that inspired confidence. Andrew Lipstein, Harper's Magazine, 26 Apr. 2024 The magnanimous chief of the $260 billion SaaS firm has long maintained that some amount of flexibility—and allowing employee choice to dictate policies—has separated him from many of his bullish pro-office counterparts. Jane Thier, Fortune, 10 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for magnanimous 

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 13 Jul. 2024.

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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