mag·​ni·​tude | \ ˈmag-nə-ˌtüd How to pronounce magnitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Definition of magnitude

1a : great size or extent cannot wage a war of such magnitude— A. N. Whitehead the magnitude of an earthquake
b(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 magnitudesAmerican 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 sense 1a) or apparent brightness of a celestial (see celestial entry 1 sense 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

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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 on the Web Over the past week, there’s been one other earthquake above magnitude 3.0 within 100 miles of this area, according to the Chronicle’s earthquake tracker. Shwanika Narayan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Magnitude 3.7 quake Gilroy area," 21 Feb. 2021 But the possible catastrophic impact of the pandemic was considered greater in magnitude by the government. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Has the Covid-19 pandemic effectively ended in India?," 17 Feb. 2021 Such a crash could resemble 1929-1932 in magnitude but at 2021 speed . . . Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Bubble’s Passive Accomplice," 12 Feb. 2021 In the past 10 days, four earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater have occurred in the state, according to the LA Times. Peter Aitken, Fox News, "Earthquakes rattle California coast, magnitude 4.4 in northern counties," 7 Dec. 2020 Over the last seven days, there have been five other earthquakes above magnitude 3.0 within 100 miles of this area. Sam Whiting,, "Modest morning quake hits south of Ukiah, wakes Lakeport, felt north and south," 6 Dec. 2020 However, for the 2016 election polling, r was –0.005, or about one out of 200 in magnitude for predicting Trump’s vote shares, as estimated in my article (based on polls carried out by YouGov). Xiao-li Meng, Scientific American, "The Secret Sauce in Opinion Polling Can Also Be a Source of Spoilage," 6 Dec. 2020 At least four people are dead and more than 120 people have been reported injured following the 7.0 magnitude tremor recorded in the Aegean Sea by the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center off the coast of Turkey's western Izmir province. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'Very big' earthquake rattles Turkey and Greece: Several killed and more than 120 injured," 30 Oct. 2020 In the past 10 days, two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater have been reported in the area. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In California: Fires prompt evacuations in OC; PG&E cuts off power to 1M people," 27 Oct. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of magnitude

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for magnitude

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin magnitudo, from magnus

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Time Traveler for magnitude

Time Traveler

The first known use of magnitude was in the 15th century

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Statistics for magnitude

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Magnitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for magnitude



English Language Learners Definition of magnitude

: 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


mag·​ni·​tude | \ ˈmag-nə-ˌtüd How to pronounce magnitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Kids Definition of magnitude

: greatness of size or importance “How can you term an undertaking of such magnitude mere peddling?”— Lloyd Alexander, Time Cat


mag·​ni·​tude | \ ˈmag-nə-ˌt(y)üd How to pronounce magnitude (audio) \

Medical Definition of magnitude

: relative size or extent

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Comments on magnitude

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