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See also: Magnus and Magnús



From Proto-Italic *magnos, from Proto-Indo-European *mh?nós, from *mé?h?s ("great"). Cognates include Ancient Greek (mégas, "big, large"), Sanskrit (mahá, "great, mighty, strong, abundant"), Middle Persian ms (meh, "great") (< *mas) (Persian (mih)), Avestan -(maz-, "large"), Tocharian B m?ka ("large"), Hittite [script needed] (m?kkis, "much, many, numerous"), Old Armenian (mec), Old Irish maige ("great, large"), Albanian madh ("large")[1] and Old English micel (English much). Probably not cognate to mactus.



magnus (feminine magna, neuter magnum, comparative maior, superlative maximus or maxumus); first/second-declension adjective

  1. (literally):
    1. (of physical size or quantity) Great, large, big; (of things) vast, extensive, spacious.
    2. Especially:
      1. (of measure, weight, quantity) Great, much, abundant, considerable.
        • 100 BCE - 44 BCE, Julius Caesar, Commentari? d? Bell? Gallic? 6.14:
          Magnum ibi numerum versuum ?discere d?cuntur.
          There they are said to learn by heart a large number of verses.
      2. (rare) (of time) Synonym of longus, multus.
      3. (of voice) Loud, powerful, strong, mighty.
  2. (figuratively):
    1. (in general) Great, grand, mighty, noble, lofty, important, of great weight or importance, momentous.
      Carolus Magnus - Charlemagne / Charles the Great
      Magna Britannia - Great Britain
      Mare magnum - Great sea
      • 166 BCE, Publius Terentius Afer, Andria 1.1:
        Enimv?r? spect?tum satis put?bam et magnum exemplum continentiae.
        In fact, I supposed him sufficiently tested and a great example of self-control.
      • 397 CE - 400 CE, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, C?nfessi?n?s 1.1:
        Magnus es, domine, et laud?bilis vald?.
        Great are you, O Lord, and very much praiseworthy.
    2. (in particular):
      1. (of age, with n?tu) Advanced in years, of great age, aged.
      2. (in specifications of value, in the neutral absolute) High, dear, of great value, at a high price.

Usage notes

  • Different dictionaries and grammars give different vowel lengths. Some have magnus, major/maior, maximus (e.g. Lewis & Short, Gaffiot, OLD), others have m?gnus, major/maior, maximus (e.g. Allen & Greenough). m?j- in those that don't distinguish syllable weight from vowel length is due to the first syllable being regularly made long by position, since an intervocalic /j/ is normally double).




First/second-declension adjective.

In old Latin the genitive magnai for magnae is attested (in Plautus' Miles gloriosus).

The adjective has irregular comparative and superlative degrees.

Derived terms

Related terms



  1. ^ Stefan Schumacher & Joachim Matzinger, Die Verben des Altalbanischen: Belegwörterbuch, Vorgeschichte und Etymologie (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2013), 238.
  • magnus in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • magnus in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • magnus in Charles du Fresne du Cange's Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (augmented edition, 1883-1887)
  • magnus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette, page 939/3
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • a storm accompanied by heavy claps of thunder: tempestas cum magno fragore (caeli) tonitribusque (Liv. 1. 16)
    • with many tears: magno cum fletu
    • cogent, decisive reasons: magnae (graves) necessariae causae
    • important results are often produced by trivial causes: ex parvis saepe magnarum rerum momenta pendent
    • to be of great (no) importance: magni (nullius) momenti esse
    • to have considerable influence on a question: magnam vim habere ad aliquid
    • his crowning happiness is produced by a thing; the culminating point of his felicity is..: ad felicitatem (magnus) cumulus accedit ex aliqua re
    • his crowning happiness is produced by a thing; the culminating point of his felicity is..: aliquid felicitatem magno cumulo auget
    • to entreat earnestly; to make urgent requests: magno opere, vehementer, etiam atque etiam rogare aliquem
    • to be influenced by, to yield to urgent (abject) entreaty: magnis (infimis) precibus moveri
    • to possess great authority; to be an influential person: magna auctoritate esse
    • to possess great authority; to be an influential person: magna auctoritas est in aliquo
    • to have great influence with a person; to have considerable weight: magna auctoritas alicuius est apud aliquem
    • to leave a great reputation behind one: magnam sui famam relinquere
    • it is a great undertaking to..: magnum negotium est c. Inf.
    • to be magnanimous, broad-minded: magno animo esse
    • a man of ability: vir magno ingenio, ingeniosus
    • a man of ability: vir magno ingenio praeditus
    • to be in gross error, seriously misled: magno errore teneri
    • to be in gross error, seriously misled: in magno errore versari
    • a thing which is rather (very) dubious: quod aliquam (magnam) dubitationem habet (Leg. Agr. 1. 4. 11)
    • to be busy with ambitious projects: magna moliri
    • to have a high object in view; to be ambitious: magna sibi proponere or magna spectare
    • to have had great experience in a thing: magnum usum in aliqua re habere
    • to pass as a man of great learning: magnam doctrinae speciem prae se ferre
    • we expect a great deal from a man of your calibre: magna est exspectatio ingenii tui
    • a weighty example, precedent: exemplum magnum, grande
    • a strong, striking proof: argumentum firmum, magnum
    • a strong, loud voice: vox magna, clara (Sulla 10. 30)
    • to shout at the top of one's voice: magna voce clamare
    • it is a difficult point, disputed question: magna quaestio est (followed by an indirect question)
    • to my sorrow: cum magno meo dolore
    • to undergo severe trouble, trials: magnum luctum haurire (without ex-)
    • to be haughty: magnos spiritus sibi sumere (B. G. 1. 33)
    • I have great hopes that..: magna me spes tenet (with Acc. c. Inf.) (Tusc. 1. 41. 97)
    • some one is the object of much admiration: magna est admiratio alicuius
    • we are united by many mutual obligations: multa et magna inter nos officia intercedunt (Fam. 13. 65)
    • to buy dearly: magno or male emere
    • a thing costs much, little: aliquid magno, parvo stat, constat
    • much money: pecunia magna, grandis (multum pecuniae)
    • money is plentiful at 6 per cent: semissibus magna copia est
    • to incur debts on a large scale: grande, magnum (opp. exiguum) aes alienum conflare
    • a large force, many troops: magnae copiae (not multae)
    • veterans; experienced troops: qui magnum in castris usum habent
    • to possess great experience in military matters: magnum usum in re militari habere (Sest. 5. 12)
    • by forced marches: magnis itineribus (Sall. Iug. 37)
    • there was great slaughter of fugitives: magna caedes hostium fugientium facta est
    • with great loss: magno cum detrimento
    • much damage was done by this collision: ex eo navium concursu magnum incommodum est acceptum
    • (ambiguous) to be very rich; to be in a position of affluence: magnas opes habere
    • (ambiguous) to have a large income from a thing (e.g. from mines): magnas pecunias ex aliqua re (e.g. ex metallis) facere
    • (ambiguous) to perform heroic exploits: magnas res gerere
  • magnus in William Smith, editor (1848) A Dictionary of Greek Biography and Mythology, London: John Murray
  • J. B. Greenough; G. L. Kittredge; A. A. Howard; Benj. L. D'Ooge, editors (1903) Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges, Founded on Comparative Grammar, page 3 and 56

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