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Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:53 pm
by HenryAiden
I'm currently in the middle of writing a paper on the word "wizard" (as in the magical-bumbling bastards, not a software wizard) and if possible I'd like some help.

As of now, I'm writing this paper based upon the thesis of how the word/the use of the word "wizard" has degraded or shifted from a derogatory term to describe someone as "falsely wise" or plain/outright foolish (taken from the "ard" suffix) to what is now a person of mythical/magic origin/power (didn't originate until the 1500s, late middle ages), and is in a sense, a more "fluffier" and softer term (no one hates Gandalf or Dumbledore, right?).

If anyone has any interesting facts, please help out! All my research is based off of etymonline and the OED. Thanks!!

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:17 pm
by Bobinwales
As far as I know the word "wizard" comes from the Middle English "Wys" meaning "wise".
I have no idea where the magical bumbling illegitimate men came from because I have never come across the concept. The wizards that I have met (in literature) have all been wise men.

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:52 am
by Ken Greenwald
Henry,

I checked your two sources (etymonline.com & OED) and found no mention of as you said "how the word/the use of the word wizard has degraded or shifted from a derogatory term to describe someone as "falsely wise" or plain/outright foolish (taken from the "ard" suffix) to what is now a person of mythical/magic origin/power." I also also never heard of nor could I find in your sources, nor anywhere else, of the word wizard referring to "magical-bumbling bastards." ???
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Ken Greenwald - September 9, 2020

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:15 am
by trolley
I can think of a couple of wizards who dabbled in humbuggery. Merlin (Twain's version in a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court) and The (not so) Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz... not to be confused with Word Wizard's enchanting Aussie version.

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:17 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Hi John,

I wasn't familiar with the word humbuggery, and it does have a nice ring to it. When I Iooked it up I found "humbug" was defined, but not "humbugerry". So, I would say a good fit for your two examples would be be something like 'the practice of a person who claims to be other than what he or she is, the practice of an impostor.' Is that what you meant it to mean? Anyway, you inspired me to purchase Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. I have read many of Twain's works and enjoyed them all, but somehow missed reading this one, which sounds like fun. Thanks.
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Ken - September 10, 2020

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:56 pm
by trolley
Probably, like most people, I first heard the word “humbug” from Ebenezer Scrooge. I took it to mean “bullshit!” or “bollocks!” When The Great and Powerful Oz gets outed as a charlatan by Dorothy and her gang she says to him “Why, you’re nothing but a humbug!” and he agrees. I may have just made up the word humbuggery. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before but I liked the sound of it and it seemed to work. If you’re a fan of Mark Twain, then I’m sure you are going to enjoy a Connecticut Yankee. It is my favourite book of his. It is great fun.

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:08 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Humbuggery is a well-established word:

https://onelook.com/?w=humbuggery

Re: Etymology of the Word "Wizard"

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:47 pm
by trolley
Damn! That's why it seemed to work so well.