writ large

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From writ (written) + large; a reference to Plato’s Republic, wherein he describes the state (like the city-state) as being like the individual, but larger and easier to examine[1].



writ large (comparative writ larger, superlative writ largest)

  1. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see writ,‎ large,‎ larger,‎ largest.
    • 1957 Sept. 30, "Ghana: White Eminence," Time:
      Ghana's motto, writ large on the gleaming white Independence Arch that overlooks the Atlantic in Accra, is "Freedom and Justice."
  2. (figuratively) Magnified; on a large scale.
    • 1909, H. G. Wells, Tono Bungay, ch. 8:
      Yet it seems to me indeed at times that all this present commercial civilisation is no more than my poor uncle's career writ large, a swelling, thinning bubble of assurances; that its arithmetic is just as unsound, its dividends as ill-advised, its ultimate aim as vague and forgotten.
    • 1995 Jan. 23, "One Man's Ted Sorensen Is Another's Marianne Williamson," Time:
      "Public behavior is merely private character writ large."
    • 2009, Thomas Pepinsky, Economic Crises and the Breakdown of Authoritarian Regimes, Cambridge University Press, New York, p. 40:
      In the case of Malaysia, for instance, the regime depends not on "labour" writ large but specifically on the unorganised Malay masses.
  3. (figuratively) Readily discerned, unmistakably indicated.
    Synonyms: clear, obvious
    • 1903, Jack London, The People of the Abyss, ch. 1:
      "You don't want to live down there!" everybody said, with disapprobation writ large upon their faces.
    • 1906, Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea, ch. 31:
      Meantime the old salt ("ex-coasting skipper" was writ large all over his person) had hobbled up alongside in his bumpy, shiny boots.
    • 2002 Oct. 3, Andrea Sachs, "Galley Girl: The Working Mother Edition," Time:
      Bestsellerdom is writ large for this novel, sure to be greeted with rave reviews.

Usage notes[edit]

Usually placed after the noun modified.



  1. ^ Plato; Benjamin Jowett (translation) (380BC), “Book II”, in The Republic:
    Seeing then, I said, that we are no great wits, I think that we had better adopt a method which I may illustrate thus; suppose that a short-sighted person had been asked by some one to read small letters from a distance; and it occurred to some one else that they might be found in another place which was larger and in which the letters were larger-- if they were the same and he could read the larger letters first, and then proceed to the lesser--this would have been thought a rare piece of good fortune.