[ mag-nuh-fahy ]
/ ˈmæg nəˌfaɪ /

verb (used with object), mag·ni·fied, mag·ni·fy·ing.

to increase the apparent size of, as a lens does.
to make greater in actual size; enlarge: to magnify a drawing in preparing for a fresco.
to cause to seem greater or more important; attribute too much importance to; exaggerate: to magnify one's difficulties.
to make more exciting; intensify; dramatize; heighten: The playwright magnified the conflict to get her point across.
Archaic. to extol; praise: to magnify the Lord.

verb (used without object), mag·ni·fied, mag·ni·fy·ing.

to increase or be able to increase the apparent or actual size of an object.

Nearby words

  1. magnificence,
  2. magnificent,
  3. magnificently,
  4. magnifico,
  5. magnifier,
  6. magnifying glass,
  7. magniloquence,
  8. magniloquent,
  9. magniloquently,
  10. magnisonant

Origin of magnify

1350–1400; Middle English magnifien < Latin magnificāre. See magni-, -fy

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for magnify

British Dictionary definitions for magnify


/ (ˈmæɡnɪˌfaɪ) /

verb -fies, -fying or -fied

to increase, cause to increase, or be increased in apparent size, as through the action of a lens, microscope, etc
to exaggerate or become exaggerated in importancedon't magnify your troubles
(tr) rare to increase in actual size
(tr) archaic to glorify
Derived Formsmagnifiable, adjective

Word Origin for magnify

C14: via Old French from Latin magnificāre to praise; see magnific

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for magnify



late 14c., "to speak or act for the glory or honor (of someone or something)," from Old French magnefiier "glorify, magnify," from Latin magnificare "esteem greatly, extol, make much of," from magnificus "great, elevated, noble" (see magnificence). Meaning "use a telescope or microscope" is first attested 1660s, said to be a unique development in English. Related: Magnified; magnifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for magnify


[ măgnə-fī′ ]


To increase the apparent size of, especially with a lens.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.