Magnum opus

Magnum opus

Magnum opus (plural: magna opera, also opus magnum / opera magna), from the Latin meaning "great work",[1] refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, or composer.

Related terms

Honoré de Balzac's magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively titled La Comédie humaine.

Sometimes the term magnum opus is used to refer to simply "a great work" rather than "the great work" of a specific person.[2]

In popular usage, the English-style plural magnum opuses may also be seen. Some reputable dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary now regard magnum opuses as acceptable.

The term "magnum opus" is distinguished in usage from "masterpiece" by a requirement that it is a work on a large scale, and by the absence of a requirement that it is generally regarded as among the creator's most successful works. A masterpiece may be small, short or slight, but still highly successful. For example, several 19th century composers devoted enormous amounts of time to writing operas, but are mainly remembered for much shorter works for smaller forces. Examples include Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Isaac Albéniz, and Franz Liszt. Similar examples in literature include William Wordsworth and John Keats. With other artists, such as Beethoven, Wagner, Michelangelo, and Raphael, the two terms coincide in their work: their largest works are among those regarded as their best.

See also


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Retrieved December 10, 2006, from
  2. ^ Bill Bryson, Troublesome Words, Third Edition published in Penguin Books 2002

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  • Magnum opus — (homonymie) Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Magnum opus, Grand œuvre, est une locution latine utilisée en alchimie, et aussi dans les arts en général pour désigner alors l œuvre la plus… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Magnum opus — (a veces Opus magnum), del latín significa ‘gran obra’, u obra maestra, se refiere a la mejor o a la más renombrada producción de un autor, artista, o compositor. Por ejemplo, «Don Quijote de la Mancha es la magnum opus de Miguel de Cervantes,… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Magnum Opus — Album par Yngwie Malmsteen Sortie 17 octobre 1995 Durée 50:10 Genre Metal néo classique Producteur Opus One Label Import …   Wikipédia en Français

  • magnum opus — masterpiece, a person s greatest work, Latin, lit. great work (see MAGNUM (Cf. magnum) + OPUS (Cf. opus)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • magnum opus — mag num o pus (m[a^]g n[u^]m [=o] p[u^]s), n. 1. A great work of art or literature. [WordNet 1.5] 2. The greatest work or achievement of a particular artist, writer, or other individual. [PJC] Inspired by this milieu, [Max Stirner] wrote his… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Magnum opus — (лат. opus magnum, используется и в русском написании магнум опус; лат. великая работа)  лучшая, наиболее амбициозная работа писателя, художника или композитора. Например, магнум опус Александра Иванова  картина «Явление Христа… …   Википедия

  • magnum opus — ► NOUN (pl. magnum opuses or magna opera) ▪ a large and important work of art, music, or literature, especially a person s most important work. ORIGIN Latin, great work …   English terms dictionary

  • magnum opus — n [singular] [Date: 1700 1800; : Latin; Origin: great work ] the most important piece of work by a writer or artist …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • magnum opus — noun singular the greatest piece of work that an artist, a musician, or writer has produced …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • magnum opus — [mag΄nəm ō′pəs] n. [L] 1. a great work, esp. of art or literature; masterpiece 2. a person s greatest work or undertaking …   English World dictionary

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