Of Old Iranian origin presumably akin to Old Median/Old Persian 𐎶𐎦𐎢𐏁 (maγu-) and Avestan 𐬨𐬊𐬕𐬎 (moġu). Both attested Old Iranian words are hapaxes, and of indeterminable meaning. Perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *meh₂gʰ- (“to be able to, to help; power, sorcerer”). Probably unrelated to Avestan 𐬨𐬀𐬔𐬀 (maga) (cognate with Sanskrit मघ (magha, “gift”)). Attestation in Greek predates attestation in Old Iranian. See also μῆχος (mêkhos), μηχανή (mēkhanḗ).
- (common, nonspecific) magician, and derogatorily sorcerer, trickster, conjurer, charlatan
- (common, specific) a Zoroastrian priest. Compare e.g. Herodotus Hist. 1.132f, Xenophon Cyropedia 8.3.11, Porphyry Life of Pythagoras 12, Heraclitus apud Clemens Protrepticus 12, etc.
- (hapax) name of one of the tribes of the Medes. This usage is only attested once; Herodotus Histories 1.101.
- Note 1: meanings #1 and #2 overlap in classical usage— both derive from the Greek (and generally Hellenistic) identification of "Zoroaster" as the "inventor" of astrology and magic. The first meaning ('magician') derives from the sense of "practitioner of the Zoroaster's craft", and the second meaning ('priest') from the sense of "practitioner of Zoroaster's religion".
- Note 2: meanings #2 and #3 were frequently conflated as one in 18th/19th/early 20th-century usage, giving "name of a Median priestly tribe" or similar. This combined meaning is no longer used in current scholarship.
|Case / #||Singular||Dual||Plural|
- μάγος (mágos)
- Μάγος in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- Μάγος in Liddell & Scott (1889) An Intermediate Greek–English Lexicon, New York: Harper & Brothers
- Μάγος in Bailly, Anatole (1935) Le Grand Bailly: Dictionnaire grec-français, Paris: Hachette
- Bauer, Walter et al. (2001) A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press