Definition: A magician – a worker of wonders
Origin: Early 17th century – from Greek thaumatourgos – combining the words thauma (referring to wonderment – and sharing the ame root as theatre) and ergon – the Greek word for work.
Why this word?
There can never be enough words to describe something or someone that causes wonderment – and this one, thaumaturge, is probably the most apt of all. A magician conjures up images of someone who – literally – does magic – someone who has access to powers that the rest of us don’t. A wizard is an even more extreme example of this – invoking an image of someone who need not even obey the laws of physics. In earlier times, the public may have believed that such people did, indeed, have extra-ordinary powers. Nowadays, however, we know better. The magician does not have powers – s/he has an act. Why not, therefore, use thaumaturge to describe the modern day magician – after all, thaumaturge and theatre quite aptly share the same root.
How to use this word?
Despite the aptness of this word as a descriptor for modern-day practitioners of magic, I’m afraid that reviving it could pose difficulties. Thaumaturge is something of a cumbersome word. Perhaps if it was used as a journalistic word it might eventually catch on – but to think that it could be used immediately in every-day speech is nothing more than illusion.