Magic Wand
Posted: 28 June 2013 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  865
Joined  2007-02-07

The Canadian thread piqued my interest in dish wands and now that I have one, well, it’s great. As for the name, it seems an obvious reference to magic and evidently the idea of a magic wand has been around a long time.

From online etymology: “Magic wand is attested from c.1400 and shows the etymological sense of “suppleness” already had been lost.”

I did some wild card searching for * wand, and every wand reference I found was, like the dish wand, playing off the magic idea.

I’m curious if it is possible to know how long it took for magical to become an inherent property of wands, once the association was originally made.

Posted: 29 June 2013 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  5849
Joined  2007-01-03

Looking at the OED entry, it seems as if many of the senses of wand disappear by the seventeenth century. There are some exceptions: the use of the word to denote a symbol of office continues, as do citations from Scotland and the north of England, plus some scattered citations that appear later. But by the eighteenth century, magic wand, for the most part, seems to be the only one left standing.

Posted: 29 June 2013 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  4156
Joined  2007-01-29

Early OED cites for this sense of wand:

a1400–50 Wars Alex. 57 On hiȝt in his a hand haldis a wand And kenely be coniurisons callis to him spritis.
▸?a1505 R. Henryson Test. Cresseid 311 in Poems (1981) 121 This duleful sentence Saturne tuik on hand,..And on hir heid he laid ane frostie wand.
1610 G. Fletcher Christs Victorie 42 A Siluer wande the sorceresse did sway.
1637 Milton Comus 659 Comus. Nay Lady sit; if I but wave this wand, Your nerves are all chain’d up in Alabaster.
1667 Dryden Indian Emperour ii. i. 15 High-Priest ..Once, twice, and thrice, I wave my Sacred Wand, Ascend, ascend, ascend at my command. [An Earthy Spirit rises.]
1742 E. Young Complaint ix. 2174 Sleep’s dewy wand Has strok’d my drooping lids, and promises My long arrear of rest.

First cite for “magic wand” seems to be:

1733 Gentleman’s Mag. June 289/1 Upon putting that magick Wand into his Hand again, all Things have been right again?

Edit: Sobiest antedates it by a century: see below!

[ Edited: 29 June 2013 03:52 PM by languagehat ]
Posted: 29 June 2013 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  650
Joined  2011-04-10

From Ovid’s Metamorphosis: Englished, Mythologiz’d, and Represented in Figures by George Sandys, 1632, on page 462:

Proffering th’ insidious Cup, her magick wand

About to raise, he thrusts her from her stand;

And with drawne sword the trembling Goddesse frights.





Link to an online searchable text.

[ Edited: 29 June 2013 03:30 PM by sobiest ]
Posted: 30 June 2013 10:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  2483
Joined  2007-02-19

I believe dowsers sometimes use a willow wand; and I think the Dutch at one time used bundles of these (osiers) for land reclamation. But I agree: most of the senses of “wand”, other than the magic one, have fallen into disuse. More’s the pity: it’s a lovely word. It comes to mind every time I see an orchestra conductor wielding what we rather anachronistically call a “baton”. “Wand” seems to me much more appropriate; it must be a very long time since band leaders (other than drum-majors, etc.) put away those potentially death-dealing weapons. Does anyone know just how long a time?