Definition of magnitude in US English:



  • 1The great size or extent of something.

    ‘they may feel discouraged at the magnitude of the task before them’
    • ‘The magnitude of the task was overwhelming, the costs intimidating, yet even if had they been grasped there was not the talent within government to deliver.’
    • ‘And so when an officer or his crew makes a mistake of this magnitude or proportion, the end state is the same.’
    • ‘The technical magnitude of such a task is compounded by the need to ensure the accuracy and authority of Internet-based resources.’
    • ‘We understand that not all bills are subject to consideration by this council, but given the substance and magnitude of this legislation, we feel it is an appropriate and necessary step.’
    • ‘Unable to state how much would be required, he said a tournament of such magnitude called for substantial resources and his association was appealing for assistance to make the tournament a success.’
    • ‘Proposing the means by which this group psychopathology can be overcome is a task of magnitude beyond the scope of this work.’
    • ‘A creature of this magnitude would need immense open spaces.’
    • ‘It would be a security engineering task of unbelievable magnitude, and I don't think we have a prayer of getting it right.’
    • ‘His cell is larger than the others, owing to the sheer magnitude of his size, and it's a single.’
    • ‘It certainly took everyone by surprise in terms of the scope and magnitude of the devastation.’
    • ‘Do we know how - what the extent of the magnitude of this disaster is yet, or are we still finding things out?’
    • ‘That Newmont is planning a school teaching the basic thee Rs, not to kids, but to adults keen to get a job, is a measure of the task's magnitude.’
    • ‘She observed that organising a tournament of such magnitude was a mammoth task and urged Lilayi Polo Club to use the sponsorship wisely to further develop the sport.’
    • ‘We were enthusiastic about making our practice more evidence based but initially daunted by the potential magnitude of the task.’
    • ‘The size and magnitude of the attendance alone is mind-boggling.’
    • ‘The size and magnitude of the room overwhelmed Enela.’
    • ‘Will a park of this massive magnitude get off the ground?’
    • ‘Reports about the 7.9 earthquake remain sketchy, but an earthquake of that magnitude can do massive damage.’
    • ‘One would have thought that a story of this magnitude would warrant extensive media coverage but no, the silence is deafening.’
    • ‘It's also important to grasp the magnitude of the challenge they're undertaking.’
    immensity, vastness, hugeness, enormity, enormousness, expanse
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    1. 1.1 Great importance.
      ‘events of tragic magnitude’
      • ‘A world event of this magnitude has been sadly absent from these shores since football's World Cup of 1966 and remember how brilliant that was.’
      • ‘Does an event of this magnitude necessarily have momentous causes stretching far back in French history?’
      • ‘When the inevitable occurs, and he dies as a result of his fragile constitution, the event is of such magnitude that the narrator is overwhelmed by grief and despair.’
      • ‘The fullest consequences and magnitude of this shift are yet to be adequately noticed.’
      • ‘Now, I believe that an event of this magnitude doesn't just deserve attention - it deserves some special attention.’
      • ‘A big thank you also to the sponsors of the various races without whose support and sponsorship it would not have been possible to host an event of this magnitude.’
      • ‘The magnitude of such events being celebrated at this venue by the district administration becomes high with the participation of numerous schools and colleges.’
      • ‘The media is speculating about our financial returns, but the promotional value of telecasting an event of such magnitude is immense.’
      • ‘New York has never witnessed an event of this magnitude, as the 22nd’
      • ‘Organizers wish to express their enormous appreciation to community and corporate sponsors without which an event of this magnitude could not happen.’
      • ‘They came to Everett Mall to face the overwhelming pressure, cutthroat competition and public humiliation only an event of this magnitude can provide.’
      • ‘One, they were coming in relatively small numbers for a news event of this magnitude…’
      • ‘An event of this magnitude could perhaps one day bring recognition to ‘true’ heroes and heroines in society.’
      • ‘He said it was important to emphasise that the November 14 flooding was ‘an event of extraordinary magnitude.’’
      • ‘In time he'll come to appreciate the Beatles' artistry and realize the historic magnitude of the events he's covering.’
      • ‘And, despite the unfathomable magnitude of the events of that morning, life has, for all intents and purposes, returned to normal for most of us.’
      • ‘The first danger lies in the unknowables - unpredictable events of such magnitude that they swamp the variables that economists are comfortable dealing with.’
      • ‘The catastrophe of the Late Devonian was roughly equivalent in magnitude to the event at the end of the Cretaceous that killed the dinosaurs.’
      • ‘For comparative historical analysis, this should be a revolution of the same magnitude as the Hubble space telescope was in astronomy.’
      • ‘The minister said events of such magnitude had a positive impact on a country's economy as they boosted the tourism sector and also helped in upgrading of infrastructure.’
      importance, import, significance, weight, moment, consequence, mark, notability, note, greatness, distinction, eminence, fame, renown, intensity, power
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  • 2Size.

    ‘electorates of less than average magnitude’
    • ‘It steadily increased in size until it reached its full magnitude in 1885 as an ugly but substantial shelf-like structure.’
    • ‘More generally, estimates of the average magnitude of epistasis per mutation pair are difficult to extract from designs of this type.’
    • ‘No rigorous studies have evaluated the frequency or magnitude of effects of such substances on blood pressure.’
    • ‘In regard to the immense territory of the United States, magnitude is best conveyed by considering the variety of the society settled on it, as various as that of Europe.’
    • ‘That is to say, the average American income is of quite some magnitude above the average New Zealand income.’
    • ‘The degree and magnitude of the health risks involved in cell phone usage have yet to be determined in a comprehensive manner.’
    • ‘Grasses, for example, produce an insulative thatch that reduces the average temperature and the magnitude of temperature fluctuations in surface mineral soils.’
    • ‘A reduction of that magnitude represents a significant potential savings - a savings greater than many facility executives realize.’
    • ‘The position of a mobile pointer on a calibrated scale carries information about the magnitude of the quantity being measured.’
    • ‘With the thermodynamic value of total power, we can then estimate the average magnitude of tectonic stress.’
    • ‘This underrepresentation is of the same magnitude as the average for genes in the human genome.’
    • ‘Although some realignments took place, both their frequency and magnitude were substantially lower than in the previous phase.’
    • ‘It is not the mean river flow that determines the yield from a dam on a river, but the duration and magnitude of sequences of below average flows.’
    • ‘This correlation may have been increased when few extreme animals per family were selected, because the average magnitude of residual effects was likely increased.’
    • ‘Asset deflation of this magnitude for the average American is thus very painful.’
    • ‘If the average business tried to pass on price increases of this magnitude to their customers they would quickly find themselves going out of business.’
    • ‘Given the magnitude of these numbers, a substantial volume of recruitment would be expected for direct care-givers such as nursing aides.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In addition, its average magnitude also decreased slightly.’
    • ‘The remaining mitochondrial data support similar divergence time estimates, with differences increasing in magnitude as average calibration age increases.’
    size, extent, measure, proportions, dimensions, breadth, volume, weight, quantity, mass, bulk
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    1. 2.1 A numerical quantity or value.
      ‘the magnitudes of all the economic variables could be determined’
      • ‘Test scores, presented as unadjusted means and standard deviations for the major groups tested, show the magnitudes of the mean numerical scores.’
      • ‘The problem with visual interpretation of the results is that it is not possible to reliably intuit the quantitative magnitudes of the various contributions and thus the balance of terms which gives rise to the net entropy changes.’
      • ‘Determining meaningful qualitative values for the magnitudes of quantities is a difficult task when building qualitative models about populations.’
      • ‘These magnitudes are approximations and should in no way be considered as standard magnitude values.’
      • ‘The factor of safety for any stem in the canopy of even a large tree can be quantified provided that the magnitudes of stem working and breaking stresses are known.’
      • ‘The magnitudes of the coefficients associated with buddy status and teammate aggressiveness were lower in this model than in the concurrent model.’
      • ‘Some of the magnitudes of physics are speed, force, and time.’
      • ‘In contrast, the electric field is a vector quantity (meaning it has both a magnitude and a direction).’
      • ‘Given the range of possibilities, it is fortunate that we can make a few statements about the relative magnitudes of the biometric quantities without an explicit model of mutational effects.’
      • ‘The magnitude of these correlations indicates that the constructs of supportiveness and social toy play are related to each other but are not the same thing.’
      • ‘One interpretation has it that Plato took numbers to be ratios of geometric magnitudes.’
      • ‘The three dimensions to an economic analysis using present value are assessing the magnitudes of the relevant cost or benefit flows, determining the period over which these flows will occur, and selecting the appropriate discount rate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Compare your estimated magnitudes with those of the rest of the class.’
      • ‘Together, these simulations suggest that selection is required to explain the overall reduction in hybrid indices, with varying magnitudes of selection being necessary to explain the dissimilarity among the four replicates.’
      • ‘He proposed the use of a graph for plotting a variable magnitude whose value depends on another variable.’
      • ‘It is useful to be able to provide verbal labels for likelihood ratios of various magnitudes.’
      • ‘Also, preliminary inspection showed no negative error variances and no theory-contradicting signs or magnitudes in the estimate values.’
      • ‘Numbers that denote the magnitudes of sets are called cardinal numbers.’
      • ‘There is, however, an unexplained discrepancy between the magnitudes of the diffusion coefficients obtained from the two techniques.’
      value, index, indicator, measure, norm, order, quantity, number, vector, figure
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  • 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.

    • ‘He classified the stars into 6 magnitudes where 1 is the brightest and 6 is the faintest visible to the naked eye.’
    • ‘The difference between photographic and visual magnitudes was a convenient measure of a star's color.’
    • ‘The main work was to photograph the Southern skies (repeatedly in interesting areas) with various instruments and thereby to derive the positions, magnitudes and spectra of stars and other objects.’
    • ‘At midmonth the ringed planet appears as a bright yellow-white ‘star’ shining at magnitude 0.3.’
    • ‘Use the visual magnitudes and distances you found earlier to find the absolute magnitudes of these stars.’
    • ‘It shines as bright as it ever does, at magnitude - 0.5; only two stars, Sirius and Canopus, are brighter.’
    • ‘By using a list of stars of known magnitudes it is possible to determine the magnitude of the faintest visible stars on any particular night.’
    • ‘We would appear as a brilliant bluish-white star of magnitude - 2.3, apparently hovering not too far from Venus.’
    • ‘The lights were all of a greater relative magnitude than Sirius - perhaps equaling or greater than Venus in brightness.’
    • ‘Mars now appears as a moderately bright yellowish-orange star of magnitude + 1.2.’
    • ‘The brightness classes are now known as apparent magnitudes, and are denoted by a lowercase m.’
    • ‘Early projections suggest that it might become as bright as magnitude 0.3, but this is uncertain.’
    • ‘He carried out a large survey of stellar magnitudes while at the Göttingen Observatory, publishing Aktinometrie (the first part in 1910, the second in 1912).’
    • ‘The brightness increases as magnitude lowers.’
    • ‘These resulted in his Photometric Researches, the first modern compilation of star magnitudes and among the first works to suggest a disk shape for the Milky Way galaxy.’
    • ‘Astronomers measure the brightness of stars in units called magnitudes but this is not a unit like a meter or a kilogramme.’
    • ‘The aura's brightness increased in magnitude.’
    • ‘Just off-center was a yellow star of a brighter magnitude than the others around it.’
    • ‘It appears as a very bright yellowish-white ‘star’ shining at magnitude 0.1 at midmonth.’
    • ‘Although it swings back toward the Sun after the 15th, it remains visible until nearly the end of the month as it brightens to magnitude - 0.7.’
    brightness, brilliance, radiance, luminosity
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    1. 3.1 The class into which a star falls by virtue of its brightness.
      • ‘Labrum, though only 4th magnitude, is the brightest.’
      • ‘Hubble can detect objects as faint as thirty-first magnitude, which is comparable to the sensitivity of much larger Earth-based telescopes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let us admit that Cygni, Tauri, and others, are stars of the second magnitude, such as are here to be considered.’
    2. 3.2 A difference of one on a scale of brightness, treated as a unit of measurement.
      • ‘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.’


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