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magnum opus definition


This page has 3 definitions of magnum opus in English. Magnum opus is a noun. Examples of how to use magnum opus in a sentence are shown. Also define these 10 related words and terms: work, literature, music, art, masterpiece, author, artist, alchemy, prima materia, and philosopher's stone.



From Latin magnum opus (great work).[1]




magnum opus (plural magna opera or magnum opuses or (nonstandard) magnum opi)

  1. A great or important work of literature, music or art, a masterpiece.
    • Masterpiece definition
      A piece of work that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career. (1 of 3 masterpiece definitions)
  2. The best, most popular, or most renowned achievement of an author or artist, representing their major life effort.
    The 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is widely considered to be George Orwell's magnum opus.
    • Artist definition
      A person who creates art.
      1. A person who creates art as an occupation.
      (1 of 4 artist definitions)
  3. (alchemy) The process of working with the prima materia to create the philosopher's stone.

Usage notes

The Latin plural magna opera may be preferred in some academic and literary contexts; in popular usage the English-style plural magnum opuses is more common. The plural magnum opi, although rare and likely regarded as incorrect in formal works, does see some use.




  1. ^ “magnum opus”, in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 2000, →ISBN.

Further reading