• largesse •
lahr-jes • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Generosity, munificence, liberality. 2. That which is generously or liberally bestowed.
Notes: Dictionaries today are allowing us to ignore the final E on this word: largess is OK, though I think it a less attractive alternative. Spelled either way, the word comes from an old meaning of large, "generous, liberal", that seems to be returning in the current expression, "to live large".
In Play: Today's word begins with the basic sense of "generosity" or "generousness": "Phil Anders was known for his largesse to attractive women." Never forget, though, that this is also a very beautiful word much more poetic than any of its synonyms: "After a month of drought the skies finally released their largesse to the parched earth."
Word History: Today's Good Word is French largesse left untouched except by those who eliminate the final silent E. French inherited it from a Late Latin word largitia, which was also absorbed by Portuguese and Spanish as largueza, and by Italian as larghezza. The Latin noun is based on an adjective largus "abundant, plentiful". Where this adjective came from no one knows or has even a glimmer of a clue upon which we might base an intelligent speculation. (We may now express our gratitudinal largesse to Sara Sawicki for spotting this lovely Good Word and sharing it with us.)
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