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Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Middle French magnifier, from Latin magnificāre, from magnificus.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmaɡnɪfaɪ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmæɡnɪfaɪ/
  • (file)


magnify (third-person singular simple present magnifies, present participle magnifying, simple past and past participle magnified)

  1. (transitive) To praise, glorify (someone or something, especially God). [from 14th c.]
  2. (transitive) To make (something) larger or more important. [from 14th c.]
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion:
      But through the oligopoly, charcoal fuel proliferated throughout London's trades and industries. By the 1200s, brewers and bakers, tilemakers, glassblowers, pottery producers, and a range of other craftsmen all became hour-to-hour consumers of charcoal. This only magnified the indispensable nature of the oligopolists.
  3. (transitive) To make (someone or something) appear greater or more important than it is; to intensify, exaggerate. [from 17th c.]
  4. (transitive) To make (something) appear larger by means of a lens, magnifying glass, telescope etc. [from 17th c.]
    • 2013 July-August, Catherine Clabby, “Focus on Everything”, in American Scientist:
      Not long ago, it was difficult to produce photographs of tiny creatures with every part in focus. That’s because the lenses that are excellent at magnifying tiny subjects produce a narrow depth of field. A photo processing technique called focus stacking has changed that.
  5. (intransitive, slang, obsolete) To have effect; to be of importance or significance.
    • 1712 July 26 (Gregorian calendar), [Richard Steele], “TUESDAY, July 15, 1712”, in The Spectator, number 431; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume V, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC:
      My Governess [] told him I was continually eating some Trash or other. [] But this magnified but little with my Father.
      The spelling has been modernized.

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