Definitions

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

  • n. The art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural.
  • n. The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.
  • n. The charms, spells, and rituals so used.
  • n. The exercise of sleight of hand or conjuring for entertainment.
  • n. A mysterious quality of enchantment: "For me the names of those men breathed the magic of the past” ( Max Beerbohm).
  • adj. Of, relating to, or invoking the supernatural: "stubborn unlaid ghost/That breaks his magic chains at curfew time” ( John Milton).
  • adj. Possessing distinctive qualities that produce unaccountable or baffling effects.
  • transitive v. To produce or make by or as if by magic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Allegedly supernatural charm, spell or other method to dominate natural forces.
  • n. A ritual associated with supernatural magic or with mysticism.
  • n. An illusion performed to give the appearance of magic or the supernatural.
  • n. A cause not quite understood.
  • n. Something spectacular or wonderful.
  • n. Any behaviour of a program or algorithm that cannot be explained or is yet to be defined or implemented.
  • adj. Having supernatural talents, properties or qualities attributed to magic.
  • adj. Featuring illusions that are usually performed for entertainment.
  • adj. Wonderful, amazing or incredible.
  • adj. Describing the number of nucleons in a particularly stable isotopic nucleus; 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, 126, and 184
  • adj. Great; ideal.
  • v. To cast a magic spell on or at someone or something.
  • v. To produce something, as if by magic.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to the hidden wisdom supposed to be possessed by the Magi; relating to the occult powers of nature, and the producing of effects by their agency.
  • adj. Performed by, or proceeding from, occult and superhuman agencies; done by, or seemingly done by, enchantment or sorcery.
  • n. A comprehensive name for all of the pretended arts which claim to produce effects by the assistance of supernatural beings, or departed spirits, or by a mastery of secret forces in nature attained by a study of occult science, including enchantment, conjuration, witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, incantation, etc.
  • n. The art of creating illusions which appear to the observer to be inexplicable except by some supernatural influence; it includes simple sleight of hand (legerdemain) as well as more elaborate stage magic, using special devices constructed to produce mystifying effects. It is practised as an entertainment, by magicians who do not pretend to have supernatural powers.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any supposed supernatural art; especially, the pretended art of controlling the actions of spiritual or superhuman beings.
  • n. Power or influence similar to that of enchantment: as, the magic of love.
  • n. Conjuring; tricks of legerdemain.
  • n. Control of natural forces through the knowledge of their laws.
  • Pertaining to or connected with the exercise of magic; having supposed supernatural qualities or powers; enchanting; bewitching: as, magic arts or spells; a magic wand or circle; a magic touch; magic squares.
  • Produced by or resulting from or as if from magic; exhibiting the effects of enchantment: as, magic music; magic transformations.
  • Operating as if by magic; causing illusion; producing wonderful results.

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

  • adj. possessing or using or characteristic of or appropriate to supernatural powers
  • n. any art that invokes supernatural powers
  • n. an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers

Etymologies

Middle English magik, from Old French magique, from Late Latin magica, from Latin magicē, from Greek magikē, from feminine of magikos, of the Magi, magical, from magos, magician, magus; see magus.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English magik, from Old French magique, reborrowed from Latin magice, borrowed from Ancient Greek μαγική (magikē, "magical") (τέχνη (tekhnē, "art")), derived from μάγος (magos), from magos magus, sorcerer, of Iranian origin; akin to Old Persian 𐎶𐎦𐎢𐏁 (maguš, "sorcerer"). Displaced native Middle English dweomercraft ("magic, magic arts") (from Old English dwimor ("phantom, illusion") + cræft ("art")), Old English galdorcræft ("magic, enchantment"), Old English drȳcræft ("magic, sorcery"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Most of the posters here are lumping semi-science, Bruce-Banner-was-hit-by-gamma-rays type stuff in as magic, but for the purpose of my post, I'm confining the term magic to refer to effects that are not accompanied by science-ish explanations

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  • No wonder then, that we reserve the term magic for something far removed from science, and more often associated with charlatanry.

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  • Woolf and Lawrence come out of a Judeo-Christian and European tradition; their magic is a limpid, beautiful “mysticism.”

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Comments

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  • Penny Arcade (11/02/09):

    "He's a wizard, and he used magic."
    "I get that, but in the context of..."
    "MAGIC!"

    November 24, 2009

  • Magic... or booze.

    August 29, 2008

  • A thing that must be in the air if people are ever going to fall in love.

    August 29, 2008