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By and large

Posted by ESC on April 11, 2001

In Reply to: By and large posted by Bob 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"?