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 The lack of transparent, unequivocal action by DOJ in defending our democracy from an attack of this magnitude lets us all down. Jennifer Rodgers, CNN, 8 Oct. 2021 Mayor Ted Wheeler touted the agreement as a first of its kind for a project of this magnitude. oregonlive, 6 Oct. 2021 However, a change of this magnitude is never without unique challenges. Manoj Mathew, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2021 And the word was that Chase wanted Nivola, who hadn’t carried a movie of this magnitude in his nearly 25-year film career. New York Times, 3 Oct. 2021 With a gift of this magnitude, orchestra staff felt obliged to immortalize the Mandel name, Gremillet said. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, 30 Sep. 2021 Like most projects of this magnitude, things took a bit longer than expected, exacerbated in no small part by the global pandemic. Steven Lindsey, Dallas News, 27 Sep. 2021 This was only the second national forest closure of this magnitude in California. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2021 Winds coming from the Gulf reversed the river’s direction, which officials said wasn’t uncommon for a storm of this magnitude. Steve Garbarino, WSJ, 30 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for magnitude

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Magnitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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

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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