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

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 That's how many people were killed in Afghanistan when a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the country's eastern region on Wednesday. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 23 June 2022 In 2015, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake along the border region killed more than 250 people in Pakistan and more than 100 in Afghanistan. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 22 June 2022 Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6.1 earthquake near the Pakistani border, but quakes of that strength can cause serious damage in an area where homes and other buildings are poorly constructed and landslides are common. Fazel Rahman Faizi, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 June 2022 Japan’s issues can be traced to the magnitude 9 earthquake in March 2011, the biggest ever recorded in the country. Time, 22 Mar. 2022 Cleanup efforts in Fukushima and Miyagi continue Friday after a powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the northern Japanese coasts, killing four people, injuring 107 others and knocking out power. Editors, USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2022 In March 2011, a massive tsunami unleashed by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast struck Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. NBC News, 4 Mar. 2022 The US Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Nick Perry,, 16 Jan. 2022 San Diego County was lightly shaken Wednesday by a magnitude 3.9 earthquake that broke at 7:19 p.m., roughly 15 miles north-northwest of Borrego Springs, according to the US Geological Survey. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

29 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Magnitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for magnitude


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

More from Merriam-Webster on magnitude

Nglish: Translation of magnitude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of magnitude for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about magnitude


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