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magazine

Printable Version Pronunciation: mæ-gê-zeen Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A storage area or building for weapons and ammunition, especially on a ship. 2. A chamber for holding objects to be fed into a mechanism, such as (a) cartridges fed into the firing chamber of a gun, (b) slides fed into a projector, or (c) film fed into the shutter of a movie camera. 3. A periodical appearing no more often than weekly printed on heavy, polished paper containing a collection of articles, pictures, and other features.

Notes: What do all the meanings of this Good Word have in common? They all store multiple objects, sometimes different, sometimes the same. Writers have had a lot of fun with this word: magazinedom has been offered as the world of magazines, a magaziny (or magazinish) newspaper is one more like a magazine than a newspaper, those who work for magazines engage in magazinery, and may even work in a magazinary.

In Play: Today we are trying to understand the confusion that statements like this lead to: "The entire Marine company was severely punished when dirty magazines were found in the barracks." (Would you want to say that this company was rotten to the Corps?) If sailors had been involved, dirty magazines might have been found in a dirty magazine. I'm not sure a court martial could sort all that out.

Word History: Although we clipped today's word directly from French magasin "storehouse", where it found its way from Old Italian magazzino, it originated in Arabic. Arabic mahazin is the plural of mahzan "warehouse, storage", a noun made from the verb, hazana "to store, put away". But the story doesn't end here. Arabic picked up the word from the language of Christ, Aramaic, where hassen "to possess, hoard" was derived from hÍsan "to be strong". Having come all that distance in space and time, the semantic move from a storehouse of goods to a storehouse of weapons to a store of articles in a periodical is but a couple of metaphorical skips for agile minds. (Thanks to the agile mind of Larry Brady for thinking we might like to tease apart the various meanings of magazine and put them back together.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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