Magnum opus

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This article is about the greatest work of a writer, artist, or composer. For other uses, see Magnum opus (disambiguation).

Magnum opus or opus magnum (English pronunciation: /ˈmæɡnəm ˈpəs/; plural magna opera or 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 record the usage magnum opuses as common enough for inclusion.

The term magnum opus is distinguished in usage from "masterpiece" by a requirement that it be a work on a large scale.

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