Collins dictionary defines magnanimous as - 'If you are magnanimous, you behave kindly and generously towards someone, especially after defeating them or being treated badly by them.'

However in the below sentence from the book - Programming Constructs in Java it seems to be used in different sense.

'We believe if the foundation of a building is strong then it is strong enough to hold a magnanimous structure. Similarly, this book has dived into the depths of concepts for its pursuers.'

I am not sure what a "magnanimous structure" here means, how can a structure be kind or generous? I feel that the author may have wanted to use a grandiloquent word for magnificent, but got it mistaken for another word "magnanimous"

Another usage of the the term 'magnanimous structure' from a TripAdvisor forum: “Absolutely breathtaking, magnanimous structure of gravity”

Googling for "magnanimous structure" with the double quotes gives a couple of results all of them describing some building. So is it legitimate to describe buildings as "magnanimous" as some people have done it on the Internet?

  • @PeterShor I'm a professional software developer and I put up this question to clarify possible misuse of a word that I encountered . The word 'magnanimous' is referencing a building the highlighted sentence, does not seem to be taking about programming – user120947 Jul 13 '18 at 18:55
  • So you think the author is talking about an actual, physical, building? Do you know what a metaphor is? I admit this metaphor may be completely impenetrable to anybody but the authors, but it is nonetheless clearly supposed to be a metaphor. – Peter Shor Jul 13 '18 at 18:59
  • 2
    No, as per the definition you cite. It might be magnificent, perhaps. Or monumental. But not magnanimous. It would be difficult to imagine a metaphor in which that could be considered the proper word choice, but perhaps knowing the surrounding text would clarify that. – L. Scott Johnson Jul 13 '18 at 19:08
  • 1
    @PeterShor I've clarified the description and added more references for the question in concern. I should have done it earlier. To answer your questions I am aware of metaphor and others figures of speech. However I'm afraid in this case you may be going off the tangent. Would like to know your thoughts in light of the clarified question. – user120947 Jul 13 '18 at 19:38
  • 3
    There's always the possibility that people are just using the wrong word while trying to sound clever, and that "magnanimous structure" is actually meaningless. – Simon B Jul 13 '18 at 22:18

I'd suggest when referring to the programming language, "structure" refers to the structure of the language, as in how it is built and designed, and "magnanimous" is meant to say that the structure of the language is flexible, allowing it to be used many ways. "Generous", if you will, in its functionality.

| improve this answer | |

The intended meaning when people say that would be; generous, as in plentiful which synonyms includes large or huge.

Although this might be unidiomatic but it's correct.

Answer was provided with assistance of the answer provided to the Question HERE.

| improve this answer | |

From latin magnum ("great") and latin animus,

“the mind, in a great variety of meanings: the rational soul in man, intellect, consciousness, will, intention, courage, spirit, sensibility, feeling, passion, pride, vehemence, wrath, etc., the breath, life, soul”

It is more appropriate used to describe the character of a person or action of a person rather than an inanimate object such as a "building"


The magnanimous heiress vowed to donate her entire fortune to the bereft and needy.

But it's just a word and an old one at that, so artistic implementation is to be expected.




| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Saying that it is is 'more appropriate' to use it for a person than for an inanimate object implies that it may be somewhat appropriate to use it for the latter. Is it? That is the question. – jsw29 Jul 14 '18 at 0:10
  • "But it's just a word and an old one at that, so artistic implementation is to be expected." Who the heck, besides frequenters of this forum, use magnanimous correctly and at will? Correctness must either accommodate the new usage of the term, or it shall find its death. See Amis - he has great opinion on it (amazon.com/Kings-English-Guide-Modern-Usage/dp/0312206577) :) – tidbertum Jul 14 '18 at 2:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.