Word: magnanimous

Pronunciation: maɡ-NA-nə-məs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: very generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or someone less powerful than oneself

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


The holiday season is upon us once more, and you know what that means: time for a vocabulary word about the giving spirit! Last year I wrote about the word “munificent“, an adjective for describing gifts or sums of money that are more generous than is usual or necessary. This year, I chose another word for generosity, this time including the virtue of forgiveness. Those who can find it in their hearts to show kindness to their adversaries are “magnanimous” people indeed!

To be “magnanimous” is to be extremely forgiving and generous, particularly toward rivals or others less powerful than oneself. The word arose in the mid 16th century and comes from the Latin adjective magnanimus, meaning “generous” or “noble in spirit”. This adjective comprises the adjective magnus “great” and the noun animus “soul”.

“Magnanimous” is a word I’m sure we’ve all heard at one time or another, though how it’s usually used is another matter. It seems to be such a popular word for generosity that I’m sure I’ve heard it at least once in a sarcastic sense to describe someone whose altruism could be seen as exaggerated, though this is likely still an exception to the traditional sense of the word. A notable related word is “magnanimity“, the virtue of being great of mind and heart, which is generally considered a synonym of “generosity”. If your characters are giving and forgiving toward everyone, especially toward their rivals or people of lower rank, you certainly have some “magnanimous” acts to write about in your stories! Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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