What does the idiom "at large" mean?

at large is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression at large is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "at large"


The English idiom 'at large' can generally refer to something or someone that is not in confinement, or generally not restricted in any way. It is also used to refer to a person or thing that is not specified or identified in any particular way. It can also refer to a larger or general condition, or refer to something in a wider sense compared to a particular detail or situation.


The phrase 'at large' first appeared in print in 1586, in an English translation of the Bible. It is believed to be derived from the Latin phrase “de largo” meaning “in a large manner”. The phrase has been used in a variety of contexts since the early days of English, but has become more commonly used in the modern era.


The idiom 'at large' is typically used to describe a larger situation or to refer to a general or unspecified thing or person. It is also used to describe someone or something that is not in confinement or restricted in any way. It can also refer to someone or something that is not limited to a particular area or location.

Example Sentences

  • The suspect is still at large and at large, so be sure to stay alert.
  • The company is operating at large in the industry, so it is important to keep up with their moves.
  • The company's success was attributed to its global approach, operating at large rather than concentrating on one particular market.

The meanings of the words in the "at large" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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