By-and-large meaning

For the most part; generally.

By and large, the play was a success.

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(set phrase, focus) Mostly, generally; with few exceptions.

It was, by and large, an unexceptional presentation.

adverb
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Origin of by-and-large

  • Earlier to (the wind) and off it, in one direction and another (said of the manner of handling a sailing vessel) by toward large with the wind abaft the beam

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From sailing: a ship may (may not) sail well both close by the wind, and large, downwind, with sheets extended.

    From Wiktionary