madly (adv.) Look up madly at
early 13c., from mad (adj.) + -ly (2). Colloquial meaning "passionately" had emerged by 18c.
madman (n.) Look up madman at
early 14c., mad man, from mad (adj.) + man (n.). One-word form attested from c. 1400, prevalent from 16c.
madness (n.) Look up madness at
late 14c., "insanity, dementia; rash or irrational conduct," from mad (adj.) + -ness. Sense of "foolishness" is from early 15c.
madonna (n.) Look up madonna at
1580s, "Italian lady," from Italian madonna, from Old Italian ma donna (Italian mia donna) "my lady," from ma "my" + donna "lady," from Latin domina "lady, mistress of the house," from Latin domus "house" (from PIE root *dem- "house, household"). Sense of "picture or statue of the Virgin Mary" is from 1640s. The U.S. singer/dancer (full name Madonna Louise Ciccone, b.1958) attained to pop stardom in fall 1984.
madras (adj.) Look up madras at
1833, in reference to the former Indian state of Madras (modern Chennai, a Tamil name), from which this type of bright-colored muslin cloth was exported. The British fort there dates from 1639; the name sometimes is said to be from Sanskrit mandra, a god of the underworld, but perhaps rather from Arabic madrasa "school" or Portuguese Madre (de Deus).
madrasah (n.) Look up madrasah at
Islamic college, 1620s, from Arabic madrasah, literally "a place of study," from locative prefix ma- + stem of darasa "he read repeatedly, he studied," which is related to Hebrew darash (compare midrash).
Madrid Look up Madrid at
Spanish capital, of unknown origin; first attested 932 as Majerit. Adjectival form is Madrilenian. Noun meaning "person or thing from Madrid" is Madrileño, Madrileña.
madrigal (n.) Look up madrigal at
"short love poem," also "part-song for three or more voices," 1580s, from Italian madrigale, probably from Venetian dialect madregal "simple, ingenuous," from Late Latin matricalis "invented, original," literally "of or from the womb," from matrix (genitive matricis) "womb" (see matrix).
Mae West Look up Mae West at
type of inflatable life jacket, 1940, military slang, in reference to the screen name of the buxom U.S. film star (1892-1980).
Maecenas Look up Maecenas at
"a generous patron of literature or the arts," 1560s, from name of Gaius Clinius Maecenas (died 8 B.C.E.), Roman patron of Horace and Virgil.
maelstrom (n.) Look up maelstrom at
1680s (Hakluyt, 1560s, has Malestrand), name of a famous whirlpool off the northwest coast of Norway, from Danish malstrøm (1673), from older Dutch Maelstrom (modern maalstroom), literally "grinding-stream," from malen "to grind" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind") + stroom "stream" (from PIE root *sreu- "to flow"). The name was used by Dutch cartographers (for example Mercator, 1595). OED says perhaps originally from Færoic mal(u)streymur. Popularized as a synonym for "whirlpool" c. 1841, the year of Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom."
maenad (n.) Look up maenad at
"Bacchante," 1570s, from Greek mainas (genitive mainados) "priestess of Bacchus," literally "madwoman," from stem of mainesthai "to rage, go mad," from PIE *mnyo-, suffixed form of root *men- (1) "to think."
maestro (n.) Look up maestro at
"master of music, great teacher or composer," 1797, from Italian maestro, literally "master," from Latin magisterium, accusative of magister "chief, head, director, teacher," contrastive adjective ("he who is greater") from magis (adv.) "more," from PIE *mag-yos-, comparative of root *meg- "great." Applied in Italian to eminent musical composers. Meaning "conductor, musical director" is short for maestro di cappella (1724), literally "master of the chapel" (compare German kapellmeister).
maffick (v.) Look up maffick at
"to celebrate boisterously," 1900, from Mafficking, a nonce-verb formed punningly from Mafeking, British garrison town in South Africa whose relief on May 17, 1900, during the Boer War, was celebrated wildly in London. OED reports the word "confined to journalistic use." By now it might as well write, "confined to dictionaries." The place name (properly Mafikeng) is from Tswana and is said to mean "place of rocks," from mafika, plural of lefika "rock, cliff" + -eng "place of."
mafia (n.) Look up mafia at
1875, from Italian Mafia "Sicilian secret society of criminals" (the prevailing sense outside Sicily), earlier, "spirit of hostility to the law and its ministers," from Italian (Sicilian) mafia "boldness, bravado," probably from Arabic mahjas "aggressive, boasting, bragging." Or perhaps from Old French mafler "to gluttonize, devour." A member is a mafioso (1870), fem. mafiosa, plural mafiosi.
mag Look up mag at
"car wheel made of magnesium alloy," 1969. As an abbreviation of magazine, it dates from 1801.
Mag Look up Mag at
common pet form of the fem. proper name Margaret, attested since Middle English. Compare magpie.
magazine (n.) Look up magazine at
1580s, "place for storing goods, especially military ammunition," from Middle French magasin "warehouse, depot, store" (15c.), from Italian magazzino, from Arabic makhazin, plural of makhzan "storehouse" (source of Spanish almacén "warehouse, magazine"), from khazana "to store up." The original sense is almost obsolete; meaning "periodical journal" dates from the publication of the first one, "Gentleman's Magazine," in 1731, which was so called from earlier use of the word for a printed list of military stores and information, or in a figurative sense, from the publication being a "storehouse" of information.
magdalen (n.) Look up magdalen at
"reformed prostitute," 1690s, so called for Mary Magdalene, disciple of Christ (Luke viii.2), who often is identified with the penitent woman in Luke vii.37-50. See Magdalene.
Magdalene Look up Magdalene at
fem. proper name, from Latin (Maria) Magdalena, from Greek Magdalene, literally "woman of Magdala," from Aramaic (Semitic) Maghdela, place on the Sea of Galilee, literally "tower." The vernacular form of the name, via French, has come to English as maudlin.
mage (n.) Look up mage at
"magician," c. 1400, Englished form of Latin magus "magician, learned magician," from Greek magos, a word used for the Persian learned and priestly class as portrayed in the Bible (said by ancient historians to have been originally the name of a Median tribe), from Old Persian magush "magician" (see magic). An "archaic" word by late 19c. (OED), revived by fantasy games.
Magellan Look up Magellan at
Englished name of Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães (c. 1470-1521).
Magellanic clouds Look up Magellanic clouds at
1680s, from Modern Latin Magellanicus, from Latinized name of Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães (c. 1470-1521), the first European to round the tip of South America. He described them c. 1520, hence the name in Europe; but at least the larger of the two had been mentioned by Anghiera in 1515. In English they were earlier the Cape Clouds, because they became prominent as sailors neared the Cape of Good Hope; "but after Magellan became noted and fully described them they took and have retained his name." [Allen]
Coompasinge abowte the poynt thereof, they myght see throughowte al the heaven about the same, certeyne shynynge whyte cloudes here and there amonge the starres, like unto theym whiche are scene in the tracte of heaven cauled Lactea via, that is the mylke whyte waye. [Richard Eden, translation of "Decades of the New World," 1555]
magenta (n.) Look up magenta at
1860, in honor of the Battle of Magenta in Italy, where the French and Sardinians defeated the Austrians in 1859, which advanced the cause of Italian independence and fired the imagination of European liberals. The brilliant crimson aniline dye was discovered shortly after the battle. The town's name traces back to Roman general and emperor Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius (d.312), who supposedly had a headquarters here.
maggot (n.) Look up maggot at
late 15c., probably an unexplained variant of Middle English maðek, from Old English maða "maggot, grub," from Proto-Germanic *mathon (source also of Old Norse maðkr, Old Saxon matho, Middle Dutch, Dutch made, Old High German mado, German Made, Gothic maþa "maggot"). Figurative use "whim, fancy, crotchet" is 1620s, from the notion of a maggot in the brain.
magi (n.) Look up magi at
c. 1200, "skilled magicians, astrologers," from Latin magi, plural of magus "magician, learned magician," from Greek magos, a word used for the Persian learned and priestly class as portrayed in the Bible (said by ancient historians to have been originally the name of a Median tribe), from Old Persian magush "magician" (see magic). Related: Magian.
magic (adj.) Look up magic at
late 14c., from Old French magique, from Latin magicus "magic, magical," from Greek magikos, from magike (see magic (n.)). Magic carpet first attested 1816. Magic Marker (1951) is a registered trademark (U.S.) by Speedry Products, Inc., Richmond Hill, N.Y. Magic lantern "optical instrument whereby a magnified image is thrown upon a wall or screen" is 1690s, from Modern Latin laterna magica.
magic (v.) Look up magic at
1906, from magic (n.).
magic (n.) Look up magic at
late 14c., "art of influencing events and producing marvels using hidden natural forces," from Old French magique "magic, magical," from Late Latin magice "sorcery, magic," from Greek magike (presumably with tekhne "art"), fem. of magikos "magical," from magos "one of the members of the learned and priestly class," from Old Persian magush, which is possibly from PIE root *magh- "to be able, have power."

Transferred sense of "legerdemain, optical illusion, etc." is from 1811. Displaced Old English wiccecræft (see witch); also drycræft, from dry "magician," from Irish drui "priest, magician" (see druid).
magical (adj.) Look up magical at
1550s, from magic (n.) + -al (1). Related: Magically.
magician (n.) Look up magician at
late 14c., from Old French magiciien "magician, sorcerer," from magique (see magic (n.)).
Maginot Line Look up Maginot Line at
fortifications built along the north and east borders of France before World War II, in which the French placed unreasonable confidence, named for André Maginot (1877-1932), French Minister of War in late 1920s, early 1930s.
magisterial (adj.) Look up magisterial at
1630s, from Medieval Latin magisterialis "of or pertaining to the office of magistrate, director, or teacher," from Late Latin magisterius "having authority of a magistrate," from magister "chief, director" (see master (n.)). Related: Magisterially.
magistral (adj.) Look up magistral at
1570s, from Latin magistralis "of a master," from magister "chief, director" (see master (n.)).
magistrate (n.) Look up magistrate at
late 14c., "civil officer in charge of administering laws," from Old French magistrat, from Latin magistratus "a magistrate, public functionary," originally "magisterial rank or office," from magistrare "serve as a magistrate," from magister "chief, director" (see master (n.)). Related: Magistracy.
maglev Look up maglev at
1973, contraction of magnetic levitation.
magma (n.) Look up magma at
mid-15c., "dregs," from Latin magma "dregs of an ointment," from Greek magma "thick unguent, ointment," from root of massein "to knead, mold," from PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit." Geological meaning "molten rock" is 1859. Related: Magmalic.
Magna Carta Look up Magna Carta at
also Magna Charta, 1560s, Medieval Latin, literally "great charter" (of English personal and political liberty), attested in Anglo-Latin from 1279; obtained from King John, June 15, 1215. See magnate, card (n.).
magna cum laude Look up magna cum laude at
1900, Latin, literally "with great praise;" from magna (see magnate) + cum laude.
magna mater Look up magna mater at
fertility goddess, 1728, Latin, literally "great mother." See magnate + mother (n.1).
magnanimity (n.) Look up magnanimity at
mid-14c., "loftiness of thought or purpose," from Old French magnanimité "high-mindedness, generosity of spirit," from Latin magnanimitatem (nominative magnanimitas) "greatness of soul, high-mindedness," from magnanimus "having a great soul," from magnus "great" (from PIE root *meg- "great") + animus "mind, soul, spirit" (see animus). Probably a loan-translation of Greek megalopsykhos "high-souled, generous" (Aristotle) or megathymus "great-hearted."
magnanimous (adj.) Look up magnanimous at
1580s, a back-formation from magnanimity + -ous, or else from Latin magnanimus "highminded," literally "great-souled," from magnus "great" (from PIE root *meg- "great") + animus "mind, soul, spirit" (see animus). Related: Magnanimously.
magnate (n.) Look up magnate at
mid-15c., "great man, noble, man of wealth," from Late Latin magnates, plural of magnas "great person, nobleman," from Latin magnus "great, large, big" (of size), "abundant" (of quantity), "great, considerable" (of value), "strong, powerful" (of force); of persons, "elder, aged," also, figuratively, "great, mighty, grand, important," from suffixed form of PIE root *meg- "great."
magnesia (n.) Look up magnesia at
late 14c., in alchemy, "main ingredient of the philosopher's stone," from Medieval Latin magnesia, from Greek (he) Magnesia (lithos) "the lodestone," literally "(the) Magnesian (stone)," from Magnesia, region in Thessaly, which is said to be named for the native people name Magnetes, which is of unknown origin. The ancient word, in this sense, has evolved into magnet. But in ancient times the same word, magnes, was used of lodestone as well as of a mineral commonly used in bleaching glass (modern pyrolusite, or manganese dioxide).

In Middle Ages there was some attempt to distinguish lodestone as magnes (masc.) and pyrolusite as magnesia (fem.). Meanwhile, in 18c., a white powder (magnesium carbonate) used as a cosmetic and toothpaste was sold in Rome as magnesia alba ("white magnesia"). It was from this, in 1808, that Davy isolated magnesium. He wanted to call it magnium, to stay as far as possible from the confused word magnesia, but the name was adopted in the form magnesium. Meanwhile from 16c. the other name of pyrolusite had been corrupted to manganese, and when, in 1774, a new element was isolated from it, it came to be called manganese.

Magnesia in its main modern sense of "magnesium oxide" (1755) is perhaps an independent formation from Latin magnes carneus "flesh-magnet" (c. 1550), so called because it adheres strongly to the lips.
magnesium (n.) Look up magnesium at
silvery-white metallic element, 1808, coined by English chemist Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) from white magnesia (q.v.), in which it was found. With metallic element ending -ium.
magnet (n.) Look up magnet at
mid-15c. (earlier magnes, late 14c.), from Old French magnete "magnetite, magnet, lodestone," and directly from Latin magnetum (nominative magnes) "lodestone," from Greek ho Magnes lithos "the Magnesian stone," from Magnesia (see magnesia), region in Thessaly where magnetized ore was obtained. Figurative use from 1650s.

It has spread from Latin to most Western European languages (German and Danish magnet, Dutch magneet, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese magnete), but it was superseded in French by aimant (from Latin adamas; see adamant (n.)). Italian calamita "magnet" (13c.), French calamite (by 16c., said to be from Italian), Spanish caramida (15c., probably from Italian) apparently is from Latin calamus "reed, stalk or straw of wheat" (see shawm) "the needle being inserted in a stalk or piece of cork so as to float on water" [Donkin]. Chick magnet attested from 1989.
magnetic (adj.) Look up magnetic at
1610s, literal; 1630s, figurative, from Modern Latin magneticus, from Latin magnes (see magnet).
magnetism (n.) Look up magnetism at
1610s, from Modern Latin magnetismus (see magnet + -ism). Figurative sense of "personal charm" is from 1650s; in the hypnotic sense it is from Mesmer (see mesmerism). Meaning "science of magnetics" is recorded from early 19c.
magnetite (n.) Look up magnetite at
magnetic iron ore, 1840, from German magnetit; see magnet + -ite (2).
magnetization (n.) Look up magnetization at
1801, noun of action from magnetize.