By and Large (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "By and Large"?

By and large means for the most part or on the whole.

By and large is a nautical term from the late 17th century, which stems from the practice of sailing by (which means close to the line of the wind) or sailing large (which means with the wind on the quarter). These sailing techniques were sufficient to keep the ship heading in approximately the right direction, but they were not very accurate.

Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms

Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs