magnum opus

mag·​num opus | \ ˈmag-nəm-ˈō-pəs How to pronounce magnum opus (audio) \

Definition of magnum opus

: a great work especially : the greatest achievement of an artist or writer

Did you know?

You may recognize magnum (meaning "great") as a Latin word that shows up in altered forms in several English words, and perhaps you can also come up with a few words that are related to opus ("work"). Magnitude, magnanimous, opulent, and operate are some obvious relations of the two. Magnum opus, which entered English in the 18th century, retains the original Latin spelling and the literal meaning "great work." Although the term most often refers to literary, musical, or artistic productions, it has been used to describe many kinds of great works, including games, construction projects, and even surgical techniques.

Examples of magnum opus in a Sentence

His last novel was his magnum opus. this symphony is usually considered Beethoven's magnum opus
Recent Examples on the Web This week, associate critic Cesar Hernandez and I released our mutual magnum opus: a list of the Top Fries in the Bay Area. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Apr. 2022 It’s the ultimate Beatles song, combining the best of Lennon and McCartney for a magnum opus that sounds unlike any other song from any act before or after it. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 11 Feb. 2022 Moonrise Kingdom came in between the director’s first foray into animation (Fantastic Mr. Fox) and his magnum opus (The Grand Budapest Hotel). David Sims, The Atlantic, 26 Feb. 2022 Webster’s magnum opus was 20 years in the making: the two-volume American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). Bryan A. Garner, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 The developer, who considers the 105,000-square-foot marble-and-glass home his magnum opus, is asking prospective investors to provide proof of funds and a minimum $100,000 investment by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Los Angeles Times, 15 Mar. 2022 Rodgers has had much better singular performances in terms of quarterback rating, but this is nonetheless easy to call his magnum opus. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8 Mar. 2022 There was, additionally, the simple pleasure of communing with O’Neill’s magnum opus. Marley Marius, Vogue, 25 Jan. 2022 The pioneer of green architecture was fond of using cork oak for the flooring in his studio, home, and at his magnum opus, Fallingwater. Lauren Matison, Outside Online, 11 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'magnum opus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of magnum opus

1791, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for magnum opus


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The first known use of magnum opus was in 1791

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magnum opus

Magnus effect

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Magnum opus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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