mag·​nan·​i·​mous mag-ˈna-nə-məs How to pronounce magnanimous (audio)
: showing or suggesting a lofty and courageous spirit
the irreproachable lives and magnanimous sufferings of their followers Joseph Addison
: showing or suggesting nobility of feeling and generosity of mind
too sincere for dissimulation, too magnanimous for resentment Ellen Glasgow
magnanimously adverb
magnanimousness noun

Did you know?

When you see anima, animus, or a similar formation in a word, it’s often an indicator of something alive, lively, or spirited. Something described as animated is full of life, for example, and the word animal refers to a living thing. The Latin word anima means “breath” or “soul” and animus means “spirit.” In magnanimous, animus is joined by the Latin word magnus, meaning “great.” Basically meaning “greatness of spirit,” magnanimity is the opposite of selfishness. A truly magnanimous person can lose without complaining and win without gloating, and angry disputes can sometimes be resolved when one side makes a magnanimous gesture toward the other.

Example Sentences

"No problem," I dismissed his concerns with a magnanimous flick of the wrist. Tom Perrotta, Joe College, 2000 … and many of them retain a respectful Eisenhower-or-Kennedy-era view of America as Japan's usually magnanimous elder brother. James Fallows, Atlantic, August 1989 … with the off-duty cops downing them as fast as he could pour, Leery could afford to be magnanimous and play the jukebox for the boys and girls. Joseph Wambaugh, The Delta Star, 1983 Levesque was magnanimous in victory, immediately reassuring English-speaking Quebecers that they were still welcome in the province, an integral part of its history. Mordecai Richler, Atlantic, June 1983 She was too magnanimous to resent all the things others had said to her. a magnanimous donation to the town's animal shelter See More
Recent Examples on the Web In the event, Musk sought to appear magnanimous in accepting responsibility for the company’s performance. Brian Fung, CNN, 11 Nov. 2022 Gobert was magnanimous in his departure, graceful and grateful to the end. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Sep. 2022 Remember: a good sandwich-maker is a magnanimous sandwich-maker. Ryan Chapman, The New Yorker, 15 July 2022 As María García, the steely yet magnanimous proprietor of a once-thriving tequila distillery in western Mexico, Sánchez, in her first lead role in a feature, is riveting from first scene to last. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 May 2022 McDermott finds a frighteningly effective balance between a magnanimous everyman who would be a scout leader and a deranged man who gives in to his darkest impulses of murdering and strangling women. Keith Nelson, Men's Health, 30 May 2022 That domain is left to Frances (Alison Oliver, in the breakout, Paul Mescal-esque role) and her magnanimous best friend/ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Sasha Lane). Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 19 May 2022 Still, voluntarily allowing surgeons to carve into your otherwise healthy body to extract an organ and plug it into someone else is … what’s the word, magnanimous? Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 Rosengart’s legal guidance has helped make possible this magnanimous humanitarian effort. Malina Saval, Variety, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'magnanimous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin magnanimus, from magnus great + animus spirit — more at much, animate

First Known Use

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of magnanimous was in 1547


Dictionary Entries Near magnanimous

Cite this Entry

“Magnanimous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



mag·​nan·​i·​mous mag-ˈnan-ə-məs How to pronounce magnanimous (audio)
: having or showing a noble and courageous spirit
: being generous and forgiving
magnanimously adverb

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