Definition of magnitude
1a : great size or extent cannot wage a war of such magnitude — A. N. Whitehead the magnitude of an earthquakeb (1) : spatial quality : size able to operate only over distances of very small magnitude — G. W. Gray (2) : quantity, number the savings in amounts of metal … will be of dramatically significant magnitudes — American Fabrics
2 : the importance, quality, or caliber of something evil of such magnitude as must, if possible, be prevented — Jane Austen a writer of first magnitude — Richard Plant
3 : a number representing the intrinsic (see intrinsic 1a) or apparent brightness of a celestial (see 1celestial 2) body on a logarithmic scale in which an increase of one unit corresponds to a reduction in the brightness of light by a factor of 2.512
4 : a numerical quantitative measure expressed usually as a multiple of a standard unit
5 : the intensity of an earthquake represented by a number on an arbitrary scale a magnitude six earthquake
Examples of magnitude in a Sentence
the magnitude of the issue can scarcely be overstated
the mountain's sheer magnitude usually leaves tourists speechless
Recent Examples of magnitude from the Web
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake rumbled north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands but did not cause a tsunami or damage structures.
By the time the movie is over and the band starts playing, the energy goes up a level of magnitude.
Jacobs moves slowly with fluidity, concealing the magnitude of difficulty while simultaneously emphasizing its danger.
But the magnitude of Delta and British Airways' meltdowns—with tens of thousands of passengers affected—illustrates the disproportionate effect that one giant carrier’s situation can have on air travel.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake Monday evening near the city of Poso had a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 and was located at a depth of 9 kilometers (6 miles).
Heather Heiser, a parent coach for the Horsepower and Iditarod Motorsports TEN80 teams, explained the magnitude of the national win.
There will be questions, of course, as to whether Valverde will be able to cope with a job of the magnitude of Barcelona.
Juno also measured Jupiter's gravity field with an order of magnitude more precision than ever before.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'magnitude'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of magnitude
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin magnitudo, from magnus
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
MAGNITUDE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of magnitude for English Language Learners
: the size, extent, or importance of something
: a number that shows the brightness of a star
: a number that shows the power of an earthquake
MAGNITUDE Defined for Kids
Definition of magnitude for Students
: greatness of size or importance “How can you term an undertaking of such magnitude mere peddling?” — Lloyd Alexander, Time Cat
Medical Definition of magnitude
: relative size or extent
Learn More about magnitude
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