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See also: Magnus and Magnús





From Proto-Italic *magnos, from Proto-Indo-European *m̥ǵh₂nós, from *méǵh₂s (great).

Cognates include Ancient Greek μέγᾰς (mégas, big, large), Sanskrit मह (mahá, great, mighty, strong, abundant), Middle Persian ms (meh, great) (< *mas) (Persian مه (meh)), Avestan 𐬨𐬀𐬰- (maz-, large), Tocharian B māka (large), Hittite [script needed] (mēkkis, much, many, numerous), Old Armenian մեծ (mec), Old Irish maige (great, large), Albanian madh (large)[1] and Old English micel (English much).





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

  1. (literally):
    1. great, large, big; (of things) vast, extensive, spacious. (of physical size or quantity)
      Magna BritanniaGreat Britain
      mare magnumgreat sea
    2. Especially:
      1. great, much, abundant, considerable. (of measure, weight, quantity)
        • 100 BCE – 44 BCE, Julius Caesar, Commentariī dē Bellō Gallicō 6.14:
          Magnum ibi numerum versuum ēdiscere dīcuntur.
          There they are said to learn by heart a large number of verses.
      2. (rare) (of time) Synonym of longus, multus.
      3. Loud, powerful, strong, mighty. (of voice)
  2. (figurative):
    1. (in general) great, grand, mighty, noble, lofty, important, of great weight or importance, momentous.
      Carolus MagnusCharlemagne / Charles the Great
      • 8 CE, Ovid, Fasti 3.313:
        magna petis
        You are inquiring [about] great [matters]
      • 166 BCE, Publius Terentius Afer, Andria 1.1:
        Enimvērō spectātum satis putābam 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, Cōnfessiōnēs 1.1:
        Magnus es, domine, et laudābilis valdē.
        Great are you, O Lord, and very much praiseworthy.
    2. (in particular):
      1. advanced in years, of great age, aged. (of age, with nātu)
      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 māgnus, major/maior, maximus (e.g. Allen & Greenough). māj- 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).
  • In Late Latin, magnus increasingly took on abstract senses, while the concrete sense of 'large' was assigned to grandis.[2]



First/second-declension adjective, with locative.

Number Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative magnus magna magnum magnī magnae magna
Genitive magnī magnae magnī magnōrum magnārum magnōrum
Dative magnō magnō magnīs
Accusative magnum magnam magnum magnōs magnās magna
Ablative magnō magnā magnō magnīs
Vocative magne magna magnum magnī magnae magna
Locative magnī magnae magnī magnīs

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

The adjective has irregular comparative and superlative degrees.





Derived terms




See also tam magnus and permagnus.

  • Italo-Romance:
    • Italian: -magno, -a (in toponyms like Pratomagno, Villamagna)
  • Southern Gallo-Romance:
    • Catalan: -many, -a (in toponyms like Capmany, Vallmanya)
    • Old Occitan: mainh, magn, manh
  • Insular Romance:
  • Borrowings:


  1. ^ Stefan Schumacher & Joachim Matzinger, Die Verben des Altalbanischen: Belegwörterbuch, Vorgeschichte und Etymologie (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2013), 238.
  2. ^ Walther von Wartburg (1928–2002) “magnus”, in Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (in German), volumes 6/1: Mabile–Mephitis, page 49
  • 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 with additions by D. P. Carpenterius, Adelungius and others, edited by Léopold Favre, 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 and Roman 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, pages 3 and 56