Large

14th January 2005 at 00:00
Large (adjective) "big in number, amount, size, importance" The sense of "physical size" is missing from many Shakespearian uses, which tend to focus on the idea of "extensiveness". When Timon tells Alcibiades to "make large confusion" (Timon of Athens, IV.iii.128), he means it should be widespread. When Brutus talks about "our large honours" (Julius Caesar, IV.iii.25), he means "high, great". When Macbeth tells his guests to "be large in mirth" (Macbeth, III.iv.11) or Perdita tells Florizel "Your praises are too large" (The Winter's Tale, IV.iv.147) they mean "generous, lavish".

Language and behaviour can also be large (ie "grandiose"): Kent wrily comments about Gonerill and Regan's "large speeches" (King Lear, I.i.184), and Gloucester dismisses Reignier's "large style" (Henry VI Part 2, I.i.109). Beware also a sexual nuance, "licentious, coarse". Maecenas says Antony has been "most largeIn his abominations" (Antony and Cleopatra, III.vi.93); and in Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio insists "I never tempted her (Hero) with word too large" (IV.i.50), and Don Pedro refers to Benedick making "some large jests" (II.iii.195).

DAVID CRYSTAL

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