Make Your Editor Cry: By in large vs By and large
The idiom means, essentially, “in general” or “generally speaking.” As with many idioms in use in the English language, this one has its roots in the sea. In nautical terms, the word by refers to being in the direction of something—as in, “That boat is by the wind.” The word large describes instances in which the wind blows in a way that allows sailors “to maintain their direction of travel anywhere in a wide arc without needing to make continual adjustments to the set of the sails.” According to Webster, “by and large” originally meant “alternately close-hauled and not close-hauled.”
Admittedly, neither “by in large” nor “by and large” make much sense in modern vernacular on dry land. Regardless, only the latter phrase “by and large” is the correct way to say “in general.” The phrase “by in large” is not a thing.
Gregg Bridgeman is the Editor-in-Chief at Olivia Kimbrell Press. He is husband to best-selling Christian author Hallee Bridgeman and parent to three. He continues to proudly serve in the US Armed Forces and has done so in either an active or reserve capacity for more than twenty years as an airborne and air assault qualified paratrooper, earning a Bronze Star for his service. Most importantly, he was ordained in October of 2001 after surrendering his life to Christ decades earlier.