magnetism (n.)

1610s, "the characteristic properties of a magnet," from Modern Latin magnetismus (see magnet + -ism). Figurative sense of "personal charm, attractive power or influence" is from 1650s; in the hypnotic sense it is from Mesmer (see mesmerism). Meaning "science of magnets and magnetic phenomena" is by early 19c.

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electromagnetism (n.)

also electro-magnetism, "the collective term for phenomena which rest upon the relation between electric currents and magnetism," 1821; see electro- + magnetism.

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biomagnetism (n.)

also bio-magnetism, 1874, "animal magnetism," the supposed fluid or influence transmitted from one person to another and capable of modifying organic action, as in hypnosis; from German Biomagnetismus (1868); see bio- + magnetism. Later (by 1992) "the phenomenon of magnetic fields produced by living organisms."

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electromagnetic (adj.)

also electro-magnetic, "Pertaining to electromagnetics, or to the relation between electricity and magnetism; of the nature of electromagnetism," 1821; see electro- + magnetic.

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mesmerism (n.)

"the doctrine that one person can exercise influence over the will and nervous system of another and produce certain phenomena by virtue of a supposed emanation called animal magnetism," 1798, from French mesmérisme, named for Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Austrian physician who developed a theory of animal magnetism and a mysterious body fluid which allows one person to hypnotize another and propounded it in 1778 in Paris. The word, if still used is practically synonymous with hypnotism or artificial somnambulism. Another similar word for the same effect was braidism. An old term for "hypnotic suggestion" was mesmeric promise. Related: Mesmerist

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somnambulism (n.)

1786, "walking in one's sleep or under hypnosis," from French somnambulisme, from Modern Latin somnambulus "sleepwalker," from Latin somnus "sleep" (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep") + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).

Originally brought into use during the excitement over "animal magnetism;" it won out over noctambulation. A stack of related words came into use early 19c., such as somnambule "sleepwalker" (1837, from French somnambule, 1690s), earlier somnambulator (1803); as adjectives, somnambulary (1827), somnambular (1820).

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animal (adj.)

late 14c., "pertaining to the animal spirit of man," that is, "pertaining to the merely sentient (as distinguished from the intellectual, rational, or spiritual) qualities of a human being," from Latin animalis, from animale "living being" (see animal (n.)).

From 1540s as "pertaining to sensation;" by 1630s as "pertaining to or derived from beasts;" 1640s as "pertaining to the animal kingdom" (as opposed to vegetable or mineral); 1650s as "having life, living."

Animal rights is attested from 1879; animal liberation from 1973. Animal magnetism originally (1784) referred to mesmerism.

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magnetic (adj.)

1610s, literal but poetic (Donne), "having the properties of a magnet;" it is attested from 1630s in the figurative meaning "having powers of attraction" (but Donne's conceit also had that in mind), from Modern Latin magneticus, from Latin magnes (see magnet). The meaning "capable of being attracted by a magnet" is by 1837. Related: Magnetical (1580s); magnetics "the science of magnetism" (1786).

She, that should all parts to reunion bow ;
She, that had all magnetic force alone
To draw and fasten sunder'd parts in one ;
She, whom wise Nature had invented then,
When she observ'd that every sort of men
Did in their voyage, in this world's sea, stray,
And needed a new compass for their way ;
[Donne, "An Anatomy of the World"]
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