One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A word supposed to produce effects by magic; (in plural) the words comprising an incantation or spell.
2Any word or (in plural) phrase regarded as imbued with some special significance, or as having a pronounced or remarkable effect like that of magic (especially ‘please’); (frequently) one which permits or otherwise influences a specific action or event.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in John Studley (c1545–?1590), translator.
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