early 15c., "philosopher, sage," from Middle English wys "wise" (see wise (adj.)) + -ard. Compare Lithuanian žynystė "magic," žynys "sorcerer," žynė "witch," all from žinoti "to know." The ground sense is perhaps "to know the future." The meaning "one with magical power, one proficient in the occult sciences" did not emerge distinctly until c. 1550, the distinction between philosophy and magic being blurred in the Middle Ages. As a slang word meaning "excellent" it is recorded from 1922.
"sorcery, witchcraft" among Africans in Africa and the West Indies, 1760, from a West African word, such as Efik (southern Nigeria) ubio "a thing or mixture left as a charm to cause sickness or death," Twi ebayifo "witch, wizard, sorcerer."
mythical land in L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1900) and sequels; according to an anecdote written by Baum in 1903, inspired by a three-drawer desktop cabinet letter file, the last drawer labeled O-Z. As Australian slang for "Australia," attested by 1983.
1870, in reference to Johann Faust (c. 1485-1541), German wandering astrologer and wizard, who was reputed to have sold his soul to the Devil. Fantastic tales of his life were told as early as the late 16c., and he was the hero of dramas by Marlowe and Goethe. The Latinized form of his name, faustus, means "of favorable omen."
c. 1300, "witchcraft, magic, enchantment; act or instance of sorcery; supernatural state of affairs; seemingly magical works," from Old French sorcerie, from sorcier "sorcerer, wizard," from Medieval Latin sortiarius "teller of fortunes by lot; sorcerer," literally "one who influences fate or fortune," from Latin sors (genitive sortis) "lot, fate, fortune" (see sort (n.)).
late Old English, wil "stratagem, trick, sly artifice," perhaps from Old North French *wile (Old French guile), or directly from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse vel "trick, craft, fraud," vela "defraud"). Perhaps ultimately related to Old English wicca "wizard" (see Wicca). Lighter sense of "amorous or playful trick" is from c. 1600.
c. 1100, iugulere "jester, buffoon," also "wizard, sorcerer," from Old English geogelere "magician, conjurer," also from Anglo-French jogelour, Old French jogleor (accusative), from Latin ioculatorem (nominative ioculator) "joker," from ioculari "to joke, to jest" (see jocular). The connecting notion between "magician" and "juggler" is dexterity. Especial sense "one who practices sleight of hand, one who performs tricks of dexterity" is from c. 1600.
c. 1200, extended form of earlier wick "bad, wicked, false" (12c.), which apparently is an adjectival use of Old English wicca "wizard" (see witch). Formed as if a past participle, but there is no corresponding verb. For evolution, compare wretched from wretch. Slang ironic sense of "wonderful" first attested 1920, in F. Scott Fitzgerald. As an adverb from early 15c. Related: Wickedly.