Synonyms for “Works”

By Mark Nichol

Several words available to writers seeking to succinctly refer to the entirety of a person’s artistic or literary works are listed and described in this post.

Canon, often confused with cannon, is from the Greek noun kanon, “meaning rule,” and has multiple meanings. In this context, it refers to a body of works generally accepted or approved as categorized together. As the word pertains to franchises of content in multiple media within popular culture, such as Star Wars films, television series, books, and so on, it is used to describe a piece of content or an element within such content that is considered authentic, as opposed to a work or an element thereof not (or no longer) authorized or sanctioned by the copyright holder, or a parody, or a piece of fan fiction (unsolicited, freely distributed amateur-produced content).

A similar word is corpus, which has several meanings but refers in this context to the body of work produced by a writer or all the works that pertain to a particular subject or category; the word, directly borrowed from Latin, means “body” and is cognate with corporal, corporation, corps, corpse, and other words.

Opus, from the Latin word for “work” (also the basis of operate), most often refers to a single musical composition or a set of compositions—opera is, along with opuses, simply a plural form of opus—but it also applies loosely to one work or all works by an artist or a writer. The artistic or literary effort considered the best produced by a particular person is referred to as his or her magnum opus; that phrase, directly adopted from Latin, means “great work.”

A related word is oeuvre, the French descendant of opera; it pertains to the body of works produced by a particular artist or writer. (Oeuvre is the basis of “hors d’oeuvre,” directly taken from the French synonym for appetizers; the phrase literally means “outside the work,” referring to the fact that such delicacies are traditionally served before the first course of a meal or between courses.)

Output is a prosaic synonym describing what has been put out, or produced, by someone.

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6 Responses to “Synonyms for “Works””

  • Dale A. Wood

    The year 2017 is interesting in that this is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation began by Martin Luther in Württemberg, Germany. I found out about this from a recent TV program about Hamburg, and Württemberg is not far from Hamburg at all.

  • Dale A. Wood

    It is interesting that the words “canonical” and “noncanonical” are not found in the original article. These words are used in describing Roman Catholic theology, too.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Canon” yields the adjectives “canonical” and “noncanonical”.
    The film “Never Say Never Again” is considered to be a “noncanonical” on in the James Bond 007 series, despite the fact that Sean Connery played James Bond. The original “Casino Royale” is also a noncanonical film in this series, and especially since it was a spoof of it.
    The words “canonical” and “noncanonical” also find uses in the fields of astronomy and astrodynamics, such as in “canonical perturbations” and “noncanonical perturbations”.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Note: “A similar word is corpus, which has several meanings… [this] word, directly borrowed from Latin, means “body” and is cognate with corporal, corporation, corps, corpse, and other words.”
    ESPECIALLY: corporeal and noncorporeal.
    When it comes to “noncorporeal” things, I am very fond of Mr. Spock’s statement in STAR TREK IV: The Voyage Home – “Nothing unreal exists.”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Isaac Asimov named three of his books OPUS 100, OPUS 200, and OPUS 300, for his 100th, 200th, and 300th books.
    I recommend all of them as being fascinating. They are available in many libraries.
    Dr. Asimov wrote and published over 400 books, but there was not an OPUS 400. He was running out of time by then, and he was writing more fiction then, which to him was much more painstaking.
    When Asimov was writing the 4th, 5th, and 6th novels in a series, he did not want to contracted anything that he wrote before, so he was careful. Lots of other authors do no give a hoot!

  • Dale A. Wood

    “corpus opus magnum” ?
    “corpus opus magnum delecti” ?

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