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

Its direction is usually upward, in opposition to gravity, and its magnitude is whatever’s needed to stop weird things like that from happening. Wired, "How to Rip a Crazy Skateboard Loop With Physics," 6 Sep. 2019 So, playing in a game of this magnitude kind of gives us that opportunity. Vytas Mazeika, The Mercury News, "Honor Bowl texting: How Saturday’s showcase became a reality," 4 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, Mexican drug traffickers came to understand the magnitude of the business opportunity and started importing fentanyl and the chemicals to make it themselves. Los Angeles Times, "Death, made in Mexico: Traffickers embrace fentanyl," 1 Sep. 2019 In terms of commercial magnitude, six months of retaliatory tariffs are small beer compared with 30 years of currency manipulation, forced technological appropriation, and copyright and patent theft. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Trump — or What, Exactly?," 27 Aug. 2019 Klieman understands the magnitude of what faces him, too. Washington Post, "New coaches at Kansas, K-State are studies in contrast," 21 Aug. 2019 In this case, the net force on the cart is zero Newtons since the force pushing to the right has the same magnitude as the force pushing to the left. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "Even Physics Textbooks Tend to Get Friction Slightly Wrong," 16 Aug. 2019 This difference is significant, and its magnitude is almost exactly the same as the change associated with an individual moving to a higher level of education. Laurie Derose, The Conversation, "Gender equality at home takes a hit when children arrive," 8 Aug. 2019 Parents seeking help have encountered pediatricians who did not understand the magnitude of the addiction or had few answers. Author: Moriah Balingit, Anchorage Daily News, "E-cigarettes spawn a form of teen addiction that worries doctors, parents and schools," 26 July 2019

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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Statistics for magnitude

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for magnitude

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

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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

What made you want to look up magnitude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


recurring in steady succession

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