An idiomatic phrase that means at liberty or free. It can have a negative or positive connotation in that a criminal or escaped convict can be at large, before he or she is apprehended. A positive connotation is that an envoy can be an ambassador-at-large, which means that he or she can having a free, roving commission. The phrase in both senses dates from the late 17th century. The expression has an etymological connection to the sailing term 'large', which means sailing freely with the wind, with full, large sails. See also By and large.