Etymology
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Magna Carta 

also Magna Charta, 1560s, Medieval Latin, literally "great charter" (of English personal and political liberty). The thing was obtained from King John, June 15, 1215; the name is attested in Anglo-Latin by 1218. See magnate, card (n.).

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magna cum laude 

designating a diploma or degree of higher standard than average, by 1856, Latin, literally "with great praise;" from magna (see magnate) + cum laude.

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magna mater 

a fertility goddess, 1728, Latin, literally "great mother;" see magnate + mother (n.1).

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magnanimity (n.)

mid-14c., "loftiness of thought or purpose, greatness of mind or heart, habit of feeling and acting worthily under all circumstances," 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." The narrower sense of "superiority to petty resentments or jealousies, generous disregard of injuries" (by 1771).

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magnanimous (adj.)

1580s, "nobly brave or valiant," 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). From 1590s as "elevated in soul or sentiment, superior to petty resentments." Related: Magnanimously.

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magnate (n.)

mid-15c., "high official, 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."

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magnesia (n.)

late 14c., in alchemy, "one of the two main ingredients of the philosopher's stone," from Medieval Latin magnesia, from Greek (he) Magnesia (lithos) "the lodestone," literally "(the) Magnesian (stone)," a mineral said to have been brought from Magnesia, the 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 the 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 last, 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 Modern Latin magnes carneus "flesh-magnet" (c. 1550), so called because it adheres strongly to the lips.

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Magnesian (adj.)

"of or pertaining to Magnesia" (q.v.), either the district in Thessaly or one of two towns so called in Asia Minor, one near Miletus and the other in Lydia.

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magnesium (n.)

silvery-white metallic element, 1808, coined by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy from the white alkaline earth magnesia (q.v.), in which it was found. With metallic element ending -ium.

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magnet (n.)

"variety of magnetite characterized by its power of attracting iron and steel," 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 sense of "something which attracts" is 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.

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