Idioms

Origin of by

1
before 900; Middle English; Old English bī; cognate with Dutch bij, Old High German (German bei), Gothic bi. See be-

Synonym study

11. By, through, with indicate agency or means of getting something done or accomplished. By is regularly used to denote the agent (person or force) in passive constructions: It is done by many; destroyed by fire. It also indicates means: Send it by airmail. With denotes the instrument (usually consciously) employed by an agent: He cut it with the scissors. Through designates particularly immediate agency or instrumentality or reason or motive: through outside aid; to yield through fear; wounded through carelessness.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for by and large (1 of 3)

by and large


adverb

in general; on the whole

Word Origin for by and large

C17: originally nautical (meaning: to the wind and off it)

British Dictionary definitions for by and large (2 of 3)

by

1
/ (baɪ) /

preposition

adverb

noun plural byes

a variant spelling of bye 1

Word Origin for by

Old English bī; related to Gothic bi, Old High German , Sanskrit abhi to, towards

British Dictionary definitions for by and large (3 of 3)

by

2

the internet domain name for

Belarus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with by and large

by and large


For the most part, generally speaking, as in By and large the novel was a success. This expression originated in 17th-century seamanship, where it referred to sailing into the wind and then off it, which made it easier to steer. By the early 1700s the term had been broadened to mean “in one direction and another,” whence its present meaning of “in general.” For a synonym, see for the most part.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.