1. Bongo Mongo
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    Bongo Mongo Member

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    Synonyms for 'Magic'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Bongo Mongo, Jan 24, 2010.

    I'm currently writing a fantasy novel which has been mainly devoid of the typical fantasy cliches. Now usually I just flex my creativity and do away with them, but I've been stumped on one for awhile--the word 'magic.' Magic is a very great word, and can be used in many situations, but I am really sick of hearing it in every book that has, well, magical things happening in it. What inspired me to find a better word is Star Wars. Instead of using magic, they used 'The Force,' which sounds infinity better in my ears.

    So, WritingForums, what do you have?
     
  2. Bjartskular
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    Bjartskular Member

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    Maybe tapping into a stream of energy, the spirit or element of something or something ethereal? Better ones are also supernatural or unexplained.

    Dunno. That's what I got. :D
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Enchantment? entrancement? Or maybe a novel phrase--a recognisable combination of the established words--to describe magic in the universe you are portraying?
     
  4. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    The Blanket? A possibility if your magic system has a fairly overbearing or constrictive set of rules and the discovers of it had a sense of humour.

    You could call it some kind of religious thing because the church is the one group that has the resources and inclination to research the energy that surrounds them... which, of course, they would see as divine energy.

    In one book I read, the magicians were called Namers because, in their system, to Name something is the magic. Names had power. If something was incorrectly Named, it would never be what it was meant to be.

    Giving a name to magic (or majik, magick, Ma Chic, or another of one hundred billion phoentic and spelling variations) is not something that should be done without at least some knowledge of the history of the magic and its practitioners. Who uses the magic? What can they do with it? Do they learn how to use it or do they instinctively know that saying "Abracadabra" will cause things to happen? Does every person have the ability to use it? Why can't those that can't use it use it? Why can those that can? What are the limits? Do they have to use focal objects? Does it require highly ritualised performances? I'm guessing you are the only one that knows precisely how your magic works.

    And, unless the story is based around your magic-users, I think you might actually be better off keeping the tried and true name. If it's magic, why not call it magic? Giving something a different name can be confusing.

    I hope I've helped!
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You could use borrowed terms like the craft, mana, juju. You could get creative and call it something like the Breath (short for the Breath of Creation). You could name it from the manner of its expression, like earthweaving or treewhispering.

    But maybe you really don't need a different word. Do you agonize over finding a special word for walking, or for war? Sure, you can come up with other words, but often your best bet is to stick with the familiar, simple word.

    Look at the Lord of the Rings. Magic is used as a common term, though there are so many different practices lumped under that term, and Galadriel even comments on that to Sam.
     
  6. witch wyzwurd
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    witch wyzwurd Contributing Member

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    A-hah. I just thought of one...

    If you want to tie a relationship between our reality and your book's fantasy reality, and provide a bit of humor to boot, you could use:

    The Copper Field: pron. [from the name David Copperfield] 1. The magical energy that makes objects disappear (i.e. The Statue of Liberty), but only if the magical act is watched on a T.V. screen. 2. Anything magical in general.
     
  7. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    I use magic. XD Actually terms like, "spell," and "sorcery" appears alot more; magic doesn't even appear all that much.

    You can always give it a different name based on the cultures and settings of your story. You know, through something together like, "divine power," "mystic force," "spirit energy," and so on.

    Other than that, you can use terms like, charms, conjures, wizadry, witch craft, enchantments, and I'm sure there are a few more.
     
  8. Cacaw
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    Cacaw Member

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    Theurgy?
     
  9. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Why not base the name on the mechanism?

    If you have a runic system, you could call it by the rune language, and speak of its users as scholars or learners. Speech, writing, and communication metaphors might work well in description, as shown below:

    Karla looked up, saw the first tendrils of the approaching avalance flowing toward us. Before I could so much as think, she had yanked off her earmuffs, jerked herself fully upright and into a stance I used to associate more with sworddancers than with scholars, and traced the first half of a ghellic symbol in the air with her hand. I saw the fiery glow of the letter hanging in the air turn dull orange, then fade entirely as she added the context bars and subtle ornamentations which would complete the phrase. With a roar, the avalanche split in twain and continued its way down the mountain, the white chaos flowing around and past us like a river breaking around a boulder.

    If you have a nature-based system, then you can use words that fit -- like shapechanger, if that's the magic, or flightsense for someone who can sense birds, or flyer or loper (for a were-bird or a were-beast).

    If you are dealing with a "scientific" magic system, one that treats magic as a system that can be studied, interpreted, and used, then theurgy or herbology or botany or magicraft or such might work.

    Some words I've seen used in books include furycrafting, sight, Speaking, lycanthropy / vampirism, groundsense, probing, jewelcrafting, Craft, witchery, magery, Art, spells, signs, jumping (for teleporters) and "catching a Wind / Thread" (also for magical transport).
     
  10. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    "Ancient Technique"
    "Sacred Art"
    "Forbidden Energy"
    "Dark (or Demonic) Arts"
    "Conjuring"
    "Ritual"
    "Trance"
    "Rune Spell"
    "Summoning"
    "Enlightenment (or Enchantment)"
    "Curse"
    "Gift of the Gods"
    "Spirit Energy"
    "Aura"

    Or any combination thereof + any words that maintain to the specific setting of your story.
     
  11. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rune Craft
    Spell Craft
     
  12. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Forgot a couple:

    Mysticism
    Wizardry
    Witchcraft
    Wonders
    Miracles
    Divine Intervention
     
  13. Shadow Reeves
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    Shadow Reeves Active Member

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    personally i prefer "talent" which makes the whole power thing more personal.

    aslo one of the characters in Raymond Fiests books simply calls it "stuff" which he manipulates with his mind.
     
  14. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Only use a different word if it's fundamentally different from "normal" magic. If it draws circles like a wizard, reads huge tomes like a wizard and shouts words of power like a wizard, calling it a "soulcaster" is just going to be silly.

    In my story, "script" is a kind of magic that revolves around the written word, "craft" is the usually-incidental creation of magical items and structures, "faith" is a blanket term for both the power brought by faith in the gods and the power granted by a culture's faith in a hero, and "goblin-work" is the magic of people who work with demons. But it's all called magic, because that's what it is.

    Just, please, don't call it "magick." Or "majyck." Alternate spellings just make the word look silly.
     
  15. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Meh, "Magick" I have seen more and more lately and I think it actually feels more aged / genuine than the normal spelling "Magic."

    I was actually thinking of using the spelling with a k in my current project, but haven't had to type it yet so I dunno.
     
  16. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Magick looks "cool." Magic looks like "a word." Every time I see the word Magick, it jolts me out of the narrative for a fraction of a second while I remember that it means exactly the same thing as Magic, except that it's spelled in an akward and "this looks so cool" manner. Spellings are standardised for a good reason. You call it Magick, I call it Mayjek, that guy calls it Ometchyg (silent O) and it still is pronounced, and still means, "magic."

    I just find it irritating when someone sacrifices readability on the altar of style.
     
  17. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Perhaps, but in cultures besides the ones where "Magic" is the standardized way of saying it, other methods are just as acceptable.

    For example, If I'm writing about a group of people in whatever culture I studied and they believed in Magic but they called it "Magick" (like if you look at their writing that's how it's spelled) then I think it'd proper to when you have a character from that culture speak of Magic, they should speak of it the way that they really would instead of using the modern adaptation of the word.

    Something that closely relates to this is measurements. Like, if I'm writing a novel about a guy who lives in Germany, he's not going to say measurements in terms of Miles, Inches, Gallons just so that he can fit into a book being sold into America. He's going to say Meters, Liters, etc. I think the same thing can be applied to different interpretations of the word "Magic".
     
  18. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I looked up my synonyms for maigc on the word page and got:

    - Thriller
    - The Supernatural
    - The unexplained
    - Delightful
    - Magical
    - Wonderful

    Then I Google'd it and got these off of thesaurus.com:

    allurement, astrology, augury, devilry, diabolism, divination, enchantment, fascination, foreboding, fortune-telling, hocuspocus, horoscopy, illusion, incantation, legerdemain, magnetism, necromancy, occultism, of impossible feats by tricks abracadabra, power, prediction, presage, prestidigitation, prophecy, rune, sleight of hand, soothsaying, sorcery, sortilege, spell, superstition
     
  19. cboatsman
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    cboatsman Senior Member

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    As B-Gas and Cogito pointed out the simple answer to this is that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

    In Star Wars, "The Force" wasn't magic. It was the force. It was a new system that was developed. You never saw a Jedi slinging fireballs at his foes, or using his light saber as a wizards staff. You saw Jedi's who could manipulate their surroundings, pick objects up, move objects, throw objects, etc. as if being picked up by some invisible force. The only time this system ever even breached into something similar to magic was at times when very powerful Jedi's could use the force to create magical like things such as lightning. Yoda, for example, didn't throw up his "arcane shield" however at a time like that, he used his own force to manipulate the lightning and divert it.

    Unless your story has a distinct and unique system for magic I highly recommend you just call it magic. To further elaborate, altering your system so that only extremely powerful people can cast more than fireballs isn't a unique magic system. It's just a magic system that has been defined and placed within limitations.

    Otherwise I'm afraid you risk confusing your reader for nothing but the sake of being unique. Hopefully this helps you.

    Caleb
     
  20. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    I prefer the spelling to be "magyk", but I think that Angie Sage's got that copyrighted.

    It all depends on the type of magic you're dealing with. Elements, summoning, sorcery in general, they all ave different names. You haven't elaborated enough for me to give a good suggestion.

    BTW, if you're taking ideas from other people, it's not original. It's unique, but not original.
     
  21. Neoaptt
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    Neoaptt Banned

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    one word. Science
     
  22. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Words that I've often thought of replacing "magic" with...

    + weave
    + Light
    + essence
    + soul

    ...or any word that you can substitute for the word. (In my novel sister Light, I used the phrase "niamai". It actually translates to "soul", but it is what my character uses to manipulate the surroundings.)

    Hope helps!
    BB
     

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