Etymology
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occult (adj.)

1530s, "secret, not divulged," from French occulte and directly from Latin occultus "hidden, concealed, secret," past participle of occulere "cover over, conceal," from assimilated form of ob "over" (see ob-) + a verb related to celare "to hide" (from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save"). Meaning "not apprehended by the mind, beyond the range of understanding" is from 1540s. The association with the supernatural sciences (magic, alchemy, astrology, etc.) dates from 1630s. A verb occult "to keep secret, conceal" (c.1500, from Latin occultare) is obsolete.

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apparition (n.)

early 15c., "supernatural appearance or manifestation," from Anglo-French aparicion, Old French aparicion, aparoison (15c.), used in reference to the Epiphany (the revealing of the Christ child to the Wise Men), from Late Latin apparitionem (nominative apparitio) "an appearance," also "attendants," in classical Latin "service; servants," noun of action from past-participle stem of apparere "appear" (see appear).

The meaning "ghost" is recorded from c. 1600; the sense differentiation between appearance and apparition is that the latter tends to be unexpected or startling. Related: Apparitional.

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rationalist (n.)

1620s, "one who follows reason and not authority in thought or speculation," especially "physician whose treatment is based on reasoning," from rational + -ist. In theology/philosophy, "one who applies rational criticism to the claims of supernatural authority or revelation," 1640s. This sense shades into that of "one who believes that human reason, properly employed, renders religion superfluous." Related: Rationalistic; rationalism (1800 in medicine; 1827 in theology, "adherence to the supremacy of reason in matters of belief or conduct;" by 1876 in general use).

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demon (n.)
Origin and meaning of demon

c. 1200, "an evil spirit, malignant supernatural being, an incubus, a devil," from Latin daemon "spirit," from Greek daimōn "deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity" (sometimes including souls of the dead); "one's genius, lot, or fortune;" from PIE *dai-mon- "divider, provider" (of fortunes or destinies), from root *da- "to divide."

The malignant sense is because the Greek word was used (with daimonion) in Christian Greek translations and the Vulgate for "god of the heathen, heathen idol" and also for "unclean spirit." Jewish authors earlier had employed the Greek word in this sense, using it to render shedim "lords, idols" in the Septuagint, and Matthew viii.31 has daimones, translated as deofol in Old English, feend or deuil in Middle English. Another Old English word for this was hellcniht, literally "hell-knight."

The usual ancient Greek sense, "supernatural agent or intelligence lower than a god, ministering spirit" is attested in English from 1560s and is sometimes written daemon or daimon for purposes of distinction. Meaning "destructive or hideous person" is from 1610s; as "an evil agency personified" (rum, etc.) from 1712.

The Demon of Socrates (late 14c. in English) was a daimonion, a "divine principle or inward oracle." His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Algol (q.v.) .

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material (adj.)

mid-14c., "real, ordinary; earthly, drawn from the material world" (contrasted with spiritual, mental, supernatural), a term in scholastic philosophy and theology, from Old French material, materiel (14c.) and directly from Late Latin materialis (adj.) "of or belonging to matter," from Latin materia "matter, stuff, wood, timber" (see matter (n.)).

From late 14c. as "made of matter, having material existence; material, physical, substantial." From late 15c. as "important, relevant, necessary, pertaining to the matter or subject;" in the law of evidence, "of legal significance to the cause" (1580s).

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mahatma (n.)

title applied to an adept in Brahmanism, literally "great-souled," from Sanskrit mahatman, from maha "great" (from PIE root *meg- "great") + atman, "soul, principle of life," properly "breath" (see atman). In esoteric Buddhism, "a person of supernatural powers." In common use, as a title, a mark of love and respect. Said to have been applied to Gandhi (1869-1948) in 1915, perhaps by poet Rabrindranath Tagore. The earliest use of the word in English, however, is among the theosophists, who applied it to certain imaginary beings with preternatural powers (1884).

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fairy (n.)

c. 1300, fairie, "the country or home of supernatural or legendary creatures; fairyland," also "something incredible or fictitious," from Old French faerie "land of fairies, meeting of fairies; enchantment, magic, witchcraft, sorcery" (12c.), from fae "fay," from Latin fata "the Fates," plural of fatum "that which is ordained; destiny, fate," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Also compare fate (n.), also fay.

In ordinary use an elf differs from a fairy only in generally seeming young, and being more often mischievous. [Century Dictionary]

But that was before Tolkien. As a type of supernatural being from late 14c. [contra Tolkien; for example "This maketh that ther been no fairyes" in "Wife of Bath's Tale"], perhaps via intermediate forms such as fairie knight "supernatural or legendary knight" (c. 1300), as in Spenser, where faeries are heroic and human-sized. As a name for the diminutive winged beings in children's stories from early 17c.

Yet I suspect that this flower-and-butterfly minuteness was also a product of "rationalization," which transformed the glamour of Elfland into mere finesse, and invisibility into a fragility that could hide in a cowslip or shrink behind a blade of grass. It seems to become fashionable soon after the great voyages had begun to make the world seem too narrow to hold both men and elves; when the magic land of Hy Breasail in the West had become the mere Brazils, the land of red-dye-wood. [J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories," 1947]

Hence, figurative adjective use in reference to lightness, fineness, delicacy. Slang meaning "effeminate male homosexual" is recorded by 1895. Fairy ring, of certain fungi in grass fields (as we would explain it now), is from 1590s. Fairy godmother attested from 1820. Fossil Cretaceous sea urchins found on the English downlands were called fairy loaves, and a book from 1787 reports that "country people" in England called the stones of the old Roman roads fairy pavements.

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divination (n.)

late 14c., divinacioun, "act of foretelling by supernatural or magical means the future, or discovering what is hidden or obscure," from Old French divination (13c.), from Latin divinationem (nominative divinatio) "the power of foreseeing, prediction," noun of action from past-participle stem of divinare, literally "to be inspired by a god," from divinus "of a god," from divus "a god," related to deus "god, deity" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god"). Related: Divinatory.

Divination hath been anciently and fitly divided into artificial and natural; whereof artificial is when the mind maketh a prediction by argument, concluding upon signs and tokens: natural is when the mind hath a presention by an internal power, without the inducement of a sign. [Francis Bacon, "The Advancement of Learning," 1605]
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magic (adj.)
Origin and meaning of magic

"of or pertaining to magic; working or produced by enchantment; having supernatural qualities or powers," late 14c., from Old French magique, from Latin magicus "magic, magical," from Greek magikos, from magike (see magic (n.)). Magic carpet, a legendary carpet which would transport a person wherever he wished to go, is attested by 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 (1670s).

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divine (v.)

late 14c., divinen, "learn or make out by or as if by divination, foretell" future events (trans.), also intransitive, "use or practice divination;" from Old French deviner, from Vulgar Latin *devinare, a dissimilation of Latin divinare "foresee, foretell, predict," from divinus "of a god," from divus "of or belonging to a god, inspired, prophetic," which is related to deus "god, deity" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god").

Latin divinus also meant, as a noun, "soothsayer." English divine (v.) is also attested from late 14c. in the sense of "make out by observations or otherwise; make a guess or conjecture" without reference to supernatural insight. The earliest English sense is "to contrive, plot" (mid-14c.). Related: Divined; divining. Divining rod (or wand) is attested from 1650s.

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