Definitions

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

  • n. A member of the Zoroastrian priestly caste of the Medes and Persians.
  • n. In the New Testament, one of the wise men from the East, traditionally held to be three, who traveled to Bethlehem to pay homage to the infant Jesus.
  • n. A sorcerer; a magician.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. magician, and derogatorily sorcerer, trickster, conjurer, charlatan
  • n. a Zoroastrian priest

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a magician or sorcerer of ancient times.
  • n. a member of the Zoroastrian priesthood of the ancient Persians.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of the members of the learned and priestly caste in ancient Persia, who had official charge of the sacred rites, practised interpretation of dreams, professed supernatural arts, and were distinguished by peculiarities of dress and insignia.
  • n. In Christian history, one of the “wise men” who, according to the Gospel of Matthew (ii. 1, 2), came from the East to Jerusalem to do homage to the new-born King of the Jews.

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

  • n. a magician or sorcerer of ancient times
  • n. a member of the Zoroastrian priesthood of the ancient Persians

Etymologies

From Middle English magi, magi, from Latin magī, pl. of magus, sorcerer, magus, from Greek magos, from Old Persian maguš; see magh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin magus, from Ancient Greek μάγος (magos, "magician"), from Μάγος (Magos, "Magian"), of an indeterminate Old Iranian origin (see Μάγος for details) (Wiktionary)

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  • "'I don't give a hoot for Galen. Or Paracelsus. Or any foreign magus with his slobberings and mumblings. These people are the merest frauds.'"
    —Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998), 52

    October 6, 2008