Magnum opus

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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 an artist.

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 be 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.

See also[edit]


  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