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Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make greater in size; enlarge.
  • transitive v. To cause to appear greater or seem more important than is in fact the case; exaggerate: You have grossly magnified a trivial situation. See Synonyms at exaggerate.
  • transitive v. To increase the apparent size of, especially by means of a lens.
  • transitive v. To glorify or praise.
  • intransitive v. To increase or have the power to increase the size or volume of an image or a sound.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To make great, or greater; to increase the dimensions of; to amplify; to enlarge, either in fact or in appearance.
  • transitive v. To increase the importance of; to augment the esteem or respect in which one is held.
  • transitive v. To praise highly; to laud; to extol.
  • transitive v. To exaggerate.
  • intransitive v. To have the power of causing objects to appear larger than they really are; to increase the apparent dimensions of objects.
  • intransitive v. To have effect; to be of importance or significance.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make greater; increase the size, amount, or extent of; enlarge; augment.
  • To cause to appear greater; increase the apparent dimensions of; enlarge or augment to the eye: as, a convex lens magnifies the bulk of a body to the eye.
  • To exalt the power, glory, or greatness of; sound the praises of; extol; glorify.
  • To represent as greater than the reality; exaggerate: as, to magnify a person's deeds; to magnify the evils of one's lot.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. increase in size, volume or significance
  • v. make large
  • v. to enlarge beyond bounds or the truth

Etymologies

Middle English magnifien, to extol, from Old French magnifier, from Latin magnificāre, from magnificus, magnificent; see magnific.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French magnifier or its source, Latin magnificāre, from magnificus. (Wiktionary)

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