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You are watching: What does by and large mean

Let’s it is in honest, the expression “by and large” sounds weird. The mixes 2 (seemingly) various parts of decided (one would not normally say, for instance, “from and heavy”), and, because its dictionary meaning tells united state that

it would make much more sense come say “by large”, simply as we have the right to say “by far”. Be that together it may, “by large” is not standard, and even despite it go sometimes show up in English literature, it is probably simply a misspelling (or misunderstanding) of “by and large”.

Sailing by the wind

Somewhat surprisingly, through and big does not have anything to perform with the adverb “largely”, although they room synonyms. In fact, the was initially a purely nautical term, supplied by English sailors.

Counterintuitive together it may seem, a cruising ship is able come move versus the wind (at a particular angle relying on the type of the ship), thanks to the same aerodynamic ethics that permit gliders and birds come fly versus the wind and maintain or gain altitude without any type of internal thrust or wing movements.

This an approach is usually dubbed “sailing into the wind” nowadays, yet it provided to be dubbed “sailing through the wind”. So, as soon as a ship sailed by, that sailed versus the direction the the wind.

When a ship sailed in the direction of the wind, much more sails were provided than when it sailed right into the wind since some of the bigger sails were no well suitable for sailing upwind. In this case it was said that the ship to be sailing huge (and that did, indeed, watch larger).

All in all, “by and also large” method “both by and large” (i.e. “both into the wind and with the wind”) in nautical terminology. As soon as a ship is “good by and large”, it is an excellent in any possible situation; that is, that is great in general, which offered birth to the contemporary English idiom.

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