by and largeplay
: on the whole : in general
Did You Know?
By and large is originally a sailing term meaning "alternately close-hauled and not close-hauled." A ship that is sailing "close-hauled" is sailing as directly into the wind as possible (typically within about 45 degrees of the wind). The by part of the phrase means "close-hauled." (This by also appears in the term full and by, meaning "sailing with all sails full and as close to the wind as possible.") Large, by contrast, refers to a point of sail in which the wind is hitting the boat "abaft the beam," or behind the boat's widest point. A 1669 example of a variant spelling of by and large gives us a sense of the range implied: "Thus you see the ship handled in fair weather and foul, by and learge" (S. Sturmy, Mariners Magazine). The suggestion of a wide range carries over into the term's "in general" sense.
"Studies have shown that, by and large, when hospitals lose financial resources, they make cuts that could harm some patients." — Austin Frakt, The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2018
"The action is, by and large, wordless (a TV set provides the occasional scrolling quote), with amplified sound and Carberry's playing of prepared instruments adding atmosphere." — Thom Dibdin, The Stage (London), 9 Aug. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
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Fill in the blanks to complete a word that is also originally a sailing term but that in general use means "to rebuke severely": k _ e _ _ a _ lVIEW THE ANSWER
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