: 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.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a number of popular novels and stories during his lifetime, but his magnum opus is The Great Gatsby, the story of an eccentric millionaire.
"Natalie Johns's documentary 'Max Richter's Sleep' (2019) showcases the magnum opus of the title, an eight-and-a-half hour, 204 movement Neo-Classical piece performed by soprano, synthesizers, and string ensemble. It is performed for supine audiences who are encouraged to doze off during the proceedings." — Peter Keough, The Boston Globe, 24 Mar. 2021
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What word related to magnum is a name for a person who has great wealth and power in a particular business or industry?VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP