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Magical vs. Magic

You have words - now what do you do with them?

Magical vs. Magic

Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:37 pm

Now use your magical wand for a translation.

This passage of mine got me thinking whether I should have used magic instead and here's what I've found:

Results 1 - 10 of about 50,000 for "magical wand" . (0.21 seconds)

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,560,000 for "magic wand" . (0.31 seconds)

Which points to the collocation "magic wand" being favored in a ratio of 1 to 51 (roughly).

Now magic vs. magical:
Results 1 - 10 of about 841,000,000 for magic [definition]. (0.34 seconds)

Results 1 - 10 of about 65,000,000 for magical [definition]. (0.53 seconds)

12 to 1 (roughly)

My Longman dictionary of English Language and Culture has an entry for magic wand but none for magical wand.

And here's what my Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage says regarding magic/magical

According to Fowler 1926 the distinguishing features of magic and magical are that (1) magic is used literally and in fixed phrases while magical is used with extended meaning. But Burchfield 1996, the lattest reviser of Folwer, finds thta except for a few fixed phrases such as magic carpet and magic square, there is no tidy distinction between the two words. Here is what we have found in the evidence we have collected.

The adjective magic is almost exclusively an attributive adjective. Magical can be either an attributive or a predicate adjective, but attributive uses are about three times as common as the others. So nonattributive uses of either word are relatively uncommon.

Both words are used with literal force to refer to the supernatural.

... bulls and stags represented a greater magic potency - Katherine Kuh*, Saturday Rev., 20 Nov. 1971

The practice of using human fat as a powerful magical ingredient – A. W. Howitt, in A Reader in General Anthropology, ed. Carleton S. Coon, 1948

And both are commonly used with extended meanings, thorough their connotations may differ. Magic often implies some kind of instant effect, while magical often involves a feeling such as enchantment. These are only tendencies, however, because the figurative uses of two words overlap quite a bit.

… the magic solution to the defense problem in Europe – J.F. Golay, New Republic, 19 Apr. 1954

… a man who really had the magic touch – Leonard Bernstein, Atlantic, April 1955

… the magic plainness of La Fontaine’s language – Richard Wilbur, New York Times Book Rev., 14 Oct. 1979

… looked more and more magical and silvery as it danced away – G.K. Chesterton, The Innocence of Father Brown, 1911

… its magical mornings and its incomparable sunsets – Paul Bowles, Holiday, March 1957

… the magical ease with which they are summoned forth – Dnaiel Menaker, Harper’s, October 1972


* Quite an aptronym for someone named cow. :wink:

Brazilian dude
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Postby Perry » Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:27 pm

BD, it looks like your extensive research robbed this topic of some of its magic. :roll:
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
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