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I'm looking for a term that describes a curator's (eg: an artist's) intense focus, enthusiasm and dedication to a single or, or multiple projects (to which they're the only contributor), especially against overwhelming odds or criticism.

"raison d'être" seems like the closest fit, even if it is conveniently borrowed from French! The only concern I have about this is 1) It's French - hehe 2) more importantly, could someone have multiple raison d'être's (!), for example, would it fit in these 1st person and 3rd person contexts?

While I work on multiple projects, to me, A, B & C have been my raison d'être.

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To Bob, his raison d'être is to his projects - A, B & C

"A labour of love" is close, but I was hoping something that is a little more intense than love, and maybe a term that is a little more succinct :)

"Magnum Opus" seems to describe projects that once completed, are recognized at that curator's ultimate work. This doesn't quite fit, as I'm looking to describe the project from the curator's perspective - who might even end up hating that project. I would also like to refer to multiple projects.

"Masterpiece" seems to be used in a similar way, especially after the project is completed, but doesn't fit for the same reason as "magnum opus".

Is there a better term?

  • Another anglicized French phrase that might suit the situation is chef d'oeuvre (or in plural form, chefs d'oeuvre). Although Merriam-Webster reports that the term is usually used to convey the meaning "masterpiece," it literally means "leading work." – Sven Yargs Sep 27 '18 at 6:45
  • Devotion is stronger than dedication. Devotion indicates a strong feeling of love/loyalty towards a person or task. – ermanen Sep 27 '18 at 14:01
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How about passion? From the Oxford Living Dictionaries:

passion

NOUN

  1. [mass noun] Strong and barely controllable emotion.

    ‘a man of impetuous passion’

    1.3 [in singular] An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.

    ‘the English have a passion for gardens’

    1.4 [count noun] A thing arousing great enthusiasm.

    ‘modern furniture is a particular passion of Bill's’

Note that definition 1.4 is a countable noun so, yes, you could say:

While I work on multiple projects, to me, A, B, & C have been my passions.

or

To Bob, his passion is [for] his projects - A, B, & C.

If it turns out Bob has more than just a passion for his projects, it might be an obsession.

obsession

NOUN

[mass noun]

  1. The state of being obsessed with someone or something.

    ‘she cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession’

    1.1 [count noun] An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind.

    ‘he was in the grip of an obsession he was powerless to resist’

(from the Oxford Living Dictionaries)

Note that, again, definition 1.1 is describes the word as a count noun.

In summary, I would say that Land Rovers are my passion; my wife would probably say they are more of an obsession.

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Well, if you want a sophisticated (some would say pretentious) way of saying passion (@RobertSinasohn) you could always try the German, Leidenschaft. (See Collins German–English Dictionary.)

A possible advantage over the English is that Leidenschaft lacks sexual or religious connotations, there being separate words used for the latter in German.

However it is not listed as a loan word in the English dictionaries I have consulted, so I’d choose your audience with care.

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