Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Skill and Magic II

As a sort of appendix to my Skill and Magic post, I thought I would just list the etymologies of some magic-related terms, showing links to various skills or crafts. I've skipped steps in several of the etymologies. And, of course, with all etymologies one should exercise a bit of caution; etymology is a tentative study at best, even for experts, and for us amateurs there's plenty of danger of falling victim to mere appearances. But it's an interesting list.

charm < Latin carmen = song
enchantment < Latin incantare = to sing onto/into
Old English galdor < galan = to sing

gramarye < Old French gramaire < Latin grammatica < Greek grammatike techne = art of writing
glamour < gramarye
grimoire < gramaire

spell < Old English spell = story
German besprechen (to charm) < sprechen = to speak
rune < Old High German runa = whisper, quiet conversation

fetish < French fétiche < Portuguese feitiço < Latin facticius = something crafted

wizard < Middle English wys = wise or skilled in craft

Of course, there are many words relating to magic whose etymology is abscure at best, or trails back through the depths of time to oblivion. 'Alchemy' is one of them (perhaps it's a reference to the land of black soil, i.e., Egypt, but perhaps this association is later), as is 'witch'. And other words relating to magic were straight descriptions that have just been carried from one language to the other. In yet other cases, former magic-related words, like 'amethyst' or 'poppet' or 'prestigious', have since shed their magic to become non-magical denizens of the English language.


  1. Paul Trueman4:26 PM

    I love to do magic; I make rainbows and star bursts. I make fairies, such as queen bees and ants, into people and I make studio workers into princesses.

    Argentina Jesu Paul (Pie) Maria Carpenter Presley Sullivan Arken Wonder Superstar.

    Simple Simon Templar met a pieman going to Scarborough Fair.



  2. Paul Trueman4:29 PM

    There's a giant sundial, an public TV and a magic roundabout in Plymouth along with an ice skating rink. And there are some statues of the other Elvis on the Hoe and in various churches, a bit like the Statue of Liberty.;-) The Colossus of Rhodes was too convincing so we had to knock it down so Elvis could come..


  3. Secret_Name8:21 PM

    I tried following your suggestion on enchantment along with this link to good effect.




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