At Large

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Meaning of Idiom 'At Large'

To be at large means to be free; not in custody, imprisoned, or otherwise confined. 1,2

A synonym for on the loose.

Less Common Meanings

1. At length, fully; generally.

2. Elected to represent an entire group rather than just a segment. 2


"The two fugitives are still at large and were last seen on the outskirts of the city."

"Suspects have been identified in the bank robbery earlier this morning. The subjects are still at large."


The most common meaning has been used since the 1300's. The others are later, from the 1400's and 1700's respectively.

1. Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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