We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does It Mean If Something Is "Larger than Life"?

Jim B.
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

If someone or something is described as larger than life, it means that they have characteristics which are impressive or outsized compared with normal human beings. This phrase is an English idiom and is often reserved for fictional characters that are imbued by their creators with almost superhuman qualities. It can also be used as a kind of compliment or tribute for an actual human being with an extraordinary personality or some other distinguishing feature that sets him or her apart from others. The phrase gets its power from its use of exaggeration and figurative license, since it would be impossible to actually measure the size of life.

On certain occasions, speakers of English use words or phrases which have meanings that might not be clear to someone who hasn’t heard the or only knows the literal definitions of the words. That is because such a construction is known as an idiom, which takes its meaning not from how its words are defined but rather from how it has evolved within the culture. One idiomatic expression used to describe someone with outsized characteristics is the phrase “larger than life.”

It is relatively common for this phrase to be uttered in reference to fictional characters. Such characters need not have to be entirely realistic, and, as such, their creators often give them assets or characteristics which actual living persons would not have. Mythological heroes are emblematic of these superior beings that seem to dwarf, both literally and figuratively, normal people. As an example, consider the sentence, “Hercules’ labors were certainly larger than life.”

When this phrase is used to describe an actual human being, it is certainly a lofty tribute. As a result, this phrase can often pop up in obituaries or eulogies for those who have passed away. It can also be used as a testimonial of sorts to someone who is still alive and is impressive enough in some manner to warrant its use. For example, someone might say, “He is so larger than life that it’s hard to imagine him even getting sick.”

The use of exaggeration is what gives this phrase its particular power. Especially when it is used in reference to an actual person, there can hardly be a greater compliment than to call someone “larger than life.” That is why it is usually reserved for only the most noteworthy personalities, or else its impact would be somewhat lessened.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jim B.
By Jim B.
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own successful blog. His passion led to a popular book series, which has gained the attention of fans worldwide. With a background in journalism, Beviglia brings his love for storytelling to his writing career where he engages readers with his unique insights.
Discussion Comments
By cloudel — On Jul 28, 2012

My family and I used to say that our neighbor was larger than life, because we knew him well, and we had never seen him get sick. Even when his own wife and kids came down with contagious illnesses, he never got so much as a sniffle.

We thought he must have some super powerful immune system from another world. I've seen people avoid getting colds before, but generally, if you are in the same house with someone who has the flu or a stomach virus, you are going to come down with it.

Tragically, he died last year in a car accident. So, he wasn't larger than life after all, but his immune system was.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 28, 2012

I always thought that “larger than life” meant having superpowers. I've only heard it in reference to fictional characters.

My cousin argued with me that the larger than life meaning was much more broad and could be used to describe people with traits that were very special. I suppose that she was right after all.

To me, this idiom just sounds like one big exaggeration. I don't like using it, because I don't like placing one person on a pedestal. I understand why cartoon writers use it, but I just don't think it has a place in real life.

By Perdido — On Jul 28, 2012

@giddion – I have met people who were outstanding in that way. Even though they are dead and gone, to me, they are still larger than life.

When someone has a really special spirit that defies the odds, the impression of them stays with you after they are gone. I just don't think that their spirit died with the body at all.

I've been blessed to meet three people in my lifetime whom I consider to be larger than life. I would love for someone to think that about me. It's the ultimate honor.

By giddion — On Jul 27, 2012

It's a very ethereal quality that makes you larger than life. It's hard to pinpoint, and you only know it when you see it.

I knew a man who didn't let anything get him down. His view was such that the troubles of this life were only temporary, and our souls were so far above all that and so everlasting that there was no need to despair when we faced trials.

I loved being around him, because he always cheered me up. He didn't seem tied to this world. It was as though he came right down from heaven to give everyone around him a message that we were all actually larger than life. We just had to realize that, and this is something not many people ever grasp.

Jim B.
Jim B.
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.