at large


adjective, larger, largest.
of more than average size, quantity, degree, etc.; exceeding that which is common to a kind or class; big; great: a large house; a large number; in large measure; to a large extent.
on a great scale: a large producer of kitchen equipment.
of great scope or range; extensive; broad.
grand or pompous: a man given to large, bombastic talk.
(of a map, model, etc.) representing the features of the original with features of its own that are relatively large so that great detail may be shown.
famous; successful; important: He's very large in financial circles.
Obsolete. generous; bountiful; lavish.
unrestrained in the use of language; gross; improper.
unrestrained in behavior or manner; uninhibited.
Nautical, free ( def 33 ).
Music. the longest note in mensural notation.
Obsolete. generosity; bounty.
Nautical. with the wind free or abaft the beam so that all sails draw fully.
at large,
free from restraint or confinement; at liberty: The murderer is still at large.
to a considerable extent; at length: to treat a subject at large.
as a whole; in general: the country at large.
Also, at-large. representing the whole of a state, district, or body rather than one division or part of it: a delegate at large.
in large, on a large scale; from a broad point of view: a problem seen in large. Also, in the large.

1125–75; Middle English < Old French < Latin larga, feminine of largus ample, generous

largeness, noun
overlarge, adjective
ultralarge, adjective
unlarge, adjective

large, largess.

1. huge, enormous, immense, gigantic, colossal; massive; vast. See great.

1. small. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
large (lɑːdʒ)
1.  having a relatively great size, quantity, extent, etc; big
2.  of wide or broad scope, capacity, or range; comprehensive: a large effect
3.  having or showing great breadth of understanding: a large heart
4.  nautical (of the wind) blowing from a favourable direction
5.  rare overblown; pretentious
6.  generous
7.  obsolete (of manners and speech) gross; rude
8.  at large
 a.  (esp of a dangerous criminal or wild animal) free; not confined
 b.  roaming freely, as in a foreign country
 c.  as a whole; in general
 d.  in full detail; exhaustively
 e.  ambassador-at-large See ambassador
9.  in large, in the large as a totality or on a broad scale
10.  nautical with the wind blowing from a favourable direction
11.  by and large
 a.  (sentence modifier) generally; as a rule: by and large, the man is the breadwinner
 b.  nautical towards and away from the wind
12.  loom large to be very prominent or important
[C12 (originally: generous): via Old French from Latin largus ample, abundant]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 12c., "bountiful," from O.Fr. large "broad, wide," from L. largus "abundant, copious, plentiful, liberal," of unknown origin. Main modern meaning "extensive, big" emerged c.1300. An older sense of "liberated, free" is preserved in at large (late 14c.). Adj. phrase larger-than-life first attested
1937 (bigger than life is from 1640s).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

at large definition

A descriptive term for the election of public officials by an entire governmental unit rather than by subdivisions of the unit. For example, a delegate at large does not represent any specific district or locale, but speaks instead for a much wider group of people.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

at large

  1. Free, unconfined, especially not confined in prison, as in To our distress, the housebreakers were still at large. [1300s]

  2. At length, fully; also, as a whole, in general. For example, The chairman talked at large about the company's plans for the coming year, or, as Shakespeare wrote in Love's Labour's Lost (1:1): "So to the laws at large I write my name" (that is, I uphold the laws in general). This usage is somewhat less common. [1400s]

  3. Elected to represent an entire group of voters rather than those in a particular district or other segmentfor example, alderman at large, representing all the wards of a city instead of just one, or delegate at large to a labor union convention. [Mid-1700s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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