Definition of magnitude in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmaɡnəˌt(y)o͞od/


1The great size or extent of something: they may feel discouraged at the magnitude of the task before them
More example sentences
  • Proposing the means by which this group psychopathology can be overcome is a task of magnitude beyond the scope of this work.
  • Do we know how - what the extent of the magnitude of this disaster is yet, or are we still finding things out?
  • One would have thought that a story of this magnitude would warrant extensive media coverage but no, the silence is deafening.
immensity, vastness, hugeness, enormity;
size, extent, expanse, greatness, largeness, bigness
1.1Great importance: events of tragic magnitude
More example sentences
  • Does an event of this magnitude necessarily have momentous causes stretching far back in French history?
  • They came to Everett Mall to face the overwhelming pressure, cutthroat competition and public humiliation only an event of this magnitude can provide.
  • He said it was important to emphasise that the November 14 flooding was ‘an event of extraordinary magnitude.’
importance, import, significance, weight, consequence, mark, notability, note
formal moment
2Size: electorates of less than average magnitude
More example sentences
  • Asset deflation of this magnitude for the average American is thus very painful.
  • The magnitude of all species activity at the still water site on Brier Island was one-third the average magnitude of activity at still water sites at Kejimkujik National Park.
  • This correlation may have been increased when few extreme animals per family were selected, because the average magnitude of residual effects was likely increased.
2.1A numerical quantity or value: the magnitudes of all the economic variables could be determined
More example sentences
  • Determining meaningful qualitative values for the magnitudes of quantities is a difficult task when building qualitative models about populations.
  • He proposed the use of a graph for plotting a variable magnitude whose value depends on another variable.
  • The level of the moral and psychological state is calculated as an arithmetic mean value of the magnitudes of the corresponding indicators with account taken of their weight coefficients.
3The degree of brightness of a star. The magnitude of an astronomical object is now reckoned as the negative logarithm of the brightness; a decrease of one magnitude represents an increase in brightness of 2.512 times. A star with an apparent magnitude of six is barely visible to the naked eye. See also apparent magnitude, absolute magnitude.
Example sentences
  • Mars now appears as a moderately bright yellowish-orange star of magnitude + 1.2.
  • At midmonth the ringed planet appears as a bright yellow-white ‘star’ shining at magnitude 0.3.
  • It appears as a very bright yellowish-white ‘star’ shining at magnitude 0.1 at midmonth.
3.1The class into which a star falls by virtue of its brightness.
Example sentences
  • Neither fish is brightly illuminated, with only three of the constellation stars appearing slightly brighter than 4th magnitude.
  • Cancer is a constellation with few stars, none brighter than 4th magnitude.
  • Labrum, though only 4th magnitude, is the brightest.
3.2A difference of one on a scale of brightness, treated as a unit of measurement.
Example sentences
  • Mercury will be positioned above and to the right of Saturn on the evening of May 6 and will appear nearly one full magnitude brighter.


of the first magnitude

see first.


Late Middle English (also in the sense 'greatness of character'): from Latin magnitudo, from magnus 'great'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mag·ni·tude

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