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Re: By and large

Posted by James Briggs on April 11, 2001

In Reply to: Re: By and large posted by ESC on April 11, 2001

: : : : The database says "by and large" is "nautical in origin." Could somebody amplify?

: : : BY AND LARGE -- "The sailor's way of describing a passage which included bad days of headwinds when the vessel would have to be sailed BY the wind, and good days when the LARGE or square sails could be used giving more comfort and a better speed. (Sailing 'large' was to sail with the wind abaft the beam.) From "Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions" by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey (Sheridan House, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1995. First published in Great Britain, 1983).

: : : So what's "abaft"?

: : A nautical term for behind or from behind.

: : Large was adopted as a new verb about a year ago in the UK (esp. London) as a street term meaning excessive, boisterous. 'Tanked up on throaties last night - we was larging it' etc. Very quickly went out of fashion, in part due to the commercial failure of the film 'Kevin and Perry go large'. Seems to relate to large in the nautical sense but more likely was adopted as a reference to large = abundant, lavish.

: : Gary

: "Living large" is a phrase in the U.S. Living "the good life."

"Large" also has another nautical meaning as well as that used in "By and Large". "At large" is an expression used to indicate that a prisoner has escaped and is free. "Large" seems a funny word to be used in this sense but it goes back to a French phrase "prendre la large" meaning to stand out to sea so as to be free to move.