[mag-nuh m]


a large wine bottle having a capacity of two ordinary bottles or 1.5 liters (1.6 quarts).
a magnum cartridge or firearm.


(of a cartridge) equipped with a larger charge than other cartridges of the same size.
(of a firearm) using such a cartridge.
Informal. unusually great in power or size: a magnum spotlight; a magnum dosage.

Origin of magnum

1780–90; < Latin, neuter of magnus large; in reference to firearms, orig. used as a trademark by the Smith and Wesson Co. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for magnum

Contemporary Examples of magnum

Historical Examples of magnum

  • It is his magnum opus in literature, and exhibits wide and laborious research.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • But you must learn the dictation; the great book, the magnum opus, it is there.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • I'll give you a dinner at the Bertolini to-night, and you may have the magnum of any vintage you like.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • Say, Jack, how much brighter the world looks after a magnum!

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • It has the punch of that .44 Magnum you're presently carrying.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for magnum


noun plural -nums

a wine bottle holding the equivalent of two normal bottles (approximately 52 fluid ounces)

Word Origin for magnum

C18: from Latin: a big thing, from magnus large
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 magnum

1788, "bottle containing two quarts of wine or spirits," from Latin magnum, neuter of magnus "great in size" (see magnate). Registered 1935 by Smith & Wesson Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts, as the name of a powerful type of handgun.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper