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Definitions of magnanimous in some of the most authoritative dictionaries:

Oxford Dictionaries Online:

Generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or less powerful person.

Dictionary.com (Random House Dictionary):

  1. Generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness.
  2. High-minded; noble.
  3. Proceeding from or revealing generosity or nobility of mind, character, etc.

American Heritage Dictionary:

Highly moral, especially in showing kindness or forgiveness, as in overlooking insults or not seeking revenge.

And the Wikipedia entry for magnanimity:

The virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity.

All of the dictionaries define magnanimous as either generous, forgiving or all-encompassing moral (which may include courageous). Only the Wikipedia article has the explicit definition of courage in magnanimity.

My question is: is magnanimity the right word for courage, insight and willingness to overlook, accept or forgive? I am looking for a single word or two words (nouns) that expresses the same meanings as courage, insight and willingness to overlook or forgive combined.

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  • A great heart..
    – Manish
    Dec 24 '14 at 13:05
  • I am not looking for some unspecific general word like "a great heart".
    – Gao
    Dec 24 '14 at 13:08
  • try "greathearted."
    – Manish
    Dec 24 '14 at 13:11
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    I honestly think "magnanimity" is the closest you'll come. It has all the right connotations. And I wish we had more opportunity to use it!
    – Rusty Tuba
    Dec 24 '14 at 13:30
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    I don't make the courage connection myself. It's in OED's second definition: Great in courage; nobly brave or valiant. Of a quality, action, etc.: proceeding from or manifesting great courage. Obsolete. The first (still current) definition is generous in feeling or conduct; superior to petty resentment or jealousy, wherein it adds Also archaic: great or noble in spirit, ambition, or purpose. The Wikipedia article may be misleading for current use (perhaps it's like that to help decipher old texts). Dec 24 '14 at 14:04
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Per my earlier comment, I don't make the "courage" connection myself, but it's in OED's second definition for magnanimous...

Great in courage; nobly brave or valiant.
Of a quality, action, etc.: proceeding from or manifesting great courage.
Obsolete

The first (still current) definition is generous in feeling or conduct; superior to petty resentment or jealousy, wherein it adds Also archaic: great or noble in spirit, ambition, or purpose. I think the Wikipedia article is misleading for current usage, but perhaps it's biased to deciphering old texts.


For the record, note that Wikipedia says "the antithesis [of magnanimity] is pusillanimity". But if you follow that Merriam-Webster link you'll find this list of antonyms for pusillanimous...

brave, courageous, daring, dauntless, doughty, fearless, gallant, greathearted, gutsy, hardy, heroic (also heroical), intrepid, lionhearted, stalwart, stout, stouthearted, valiant, valorous

Magnanimous doesn't appear in that list - nor would I expect it to be there.

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Yes, it is. Magnanimity is all that.

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  • Does it even include military, diplomatic and scientific skills or talents? Since magnanimity is the "greatness of mind and heart"? Like Alexander the Great would be an epitome of magnanimity, being courageous, willing to overlook (eg insult from Diogenes) insightful, and possessing military and diplomatic prowess? Is magnanimity able to encompass all qualities of Alexander the Great?
    – Gao
    Dec 24 '14 at 13:42
  • In my humble opinion: no.
    – Rusty Tuba
    Dec 24 '14 at 13:56

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