1580s, "of noble birth," from Middle French généreux (14c.), from Latin generosus "of noble birth," figuratively "magnanimous, generous," from genus (genitive generis) "race, stock" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups). Secondary senses of "unselfish" (1690s) and "plentiful" (1610s) in English were present in French and in Latin. Related: Generously; generousness.
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