\ ˈō-pəs How to pronounce opus (audio) \
plural opera\ ˈō-​pə-​rə How to pronounce opera (audio) , ˈä-​ \ also opuses\ ˈō-​pə-​səz How to pronounce opuses (audio) \

Definition of opus

: work especially : a musical composition or set of compositions usually numbered in the order of its issue

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Did You Know?

A literary opus is often a single novel, though the word may sometimes refer to all of a writer's works. But opus normally is used for musical works. Mendelssohn's Opus 90 is his Italian Symphony, for example, and Brahms's Op. 77 is his Violin Concerto. Since many composers' works were never given opus numbers in an orderly way, they now often have catalog numbers assigned by later scholars. So Haydn's Symphony No. 104 is Hob.104 (Hob. is short for Anthony van Hoboken, the cataloger), and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro is K.492 (K. stands for Ludwig Köchel).

Examples of opus in a Sentence

the composer's final opus was performed posthumously to great acclaim
Recent Examples on the Web In early November, Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima's latest opus Death Stranding is set to arrive alongside sprawling RPGs like The Outer Worlds and intergalactic adventures like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Brittany Vincent, CNN Underscored, "Here's what to shop in eBay's first Gaming Weekend Sale," 13 Oct. 2019 This feels like a suitable encapsulation of Hideo Kojima’s dense, nigh-indescribable opus, as much as one statement can encompass the many disparate ideas tied together in the game’s world. Evan Lewis, EW.com, "Death Stranding is as bizarre as it is innovative," 1 Nov. 2019 But the disarmingly frank opus also revealed Che’s inner journey from a shy, lovelorn and self-absorbed middle-class student to a man who passionately sympathized with oppressed people all over Latin America. Lisette Poole, Smithsonian, "Roaring Through Cuba With Che Guevara’s Son," 24 Oct. 2019 The director’s 209-minute opus, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, is among the most anticipated films of the year. Washington Post, "Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ set to premiere in New York," 27 Sep. 2019 The director’s 209-minute opus, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, is among the most anticipated films of the year. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Martin Scorsese’s epic ‘The Irishman’ premieres in New York," 27 Sep. 2019 Campbell is not far into his rebuild while Clark has completed his opus and transitioned into a program-reload with the Blazers. Evan Dudley, al, "Position-by-position breakdown for UAB’s matchup with South Alabama," 18 Sep. 2019 From their 1997 heartbreak opus, Dig Me Out, to 2005’s equal parts experimental and psychedelic The Woods, their records have offered women catharsis by way of disarmingly raw lyrics and thrashing sounds. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Sleater-Kinney Are Still Here to Subvert, With a New Album and Aesthetic," 6 Sep. 2019 During a meeting to sign a new recording contract with Capitol Records in September 1969 — a few days before the Beatles’ opus, Abbey Road, was released — McCartney pitched ideas to Lennon and Starr about what the band might tackle next. David Gambacorta, Longreads, "Took You By Surprise: John and Paul’s Lost Reunion," 25 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opus.' 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 opus

1808, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for opus

borrowed from Latin oper-, opus (plural opera) "work, effort, product of labor, work of art," going back to Indo-European *h3ep-os-, *h3ep-es- "work" (whence also Sanskrit apas- "work, action"), derivative of *h3ep- "ability, force," whence Latin op-, *ops "power, ability, wealth, resource(s)," and, with varying suffixation, Sanskrit apnas- "possession, property, work," Hittite happina- "rich," happir-, happar- "business, trade," Germanic *afla- (whence Old English afol "power, might," Old Norse afl "strength"); and, with lengthened ablaut grade, Sanskrit āpas- "work, religious act," Avestan huuāpah- "performing good deeds," Germanic *ōbjan- "to perform" (whence Old Saxon oƀian "to celebrate," Old High German uoben, uoppen "to practice, exercise")

Note: Possibly also related are Old Norse efna "to perform, fulfill," Old English efnan "to accomplish, achieve" (from Germanic *abnjan-?), but this is uncertain.

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Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Opus.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opus. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for opus


How to pronounce opus (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of opus

: a piece of music written by a major composer
formal : an important work done by a writer, painter, etc.

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More from Merriam-Webster on opus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for opus

Spanish Central: Translation of opus

Nglish: Translation of opus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of opus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about opus

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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