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Automagically

I am unconvinced of this word's semantic utility. It's not an especially recent neologism—it first appeared on WordSpy's radar seven years ago, and a Jargon Dictionary unearths at least 30 years of utterance—but its use by nerdy types has risen dramatically in the last twelve months or so.

The Wordspy definition seems to suggest that there might be a semantic niche for it:

automagically. adverb. Describes a process that occurs automatically and with a certain level of mystery so that it seems somewhat magical.

In practical applications however, I have rarely encountered an instance for which "automatically" or "magically" could not have been substituted, usually to the great benefit of the sentence.

To be honest though, my real problem with it is that it just sounds dumb. It's sort of like "gi-normous". With the important difference that you're not six years old any more. If you insist upon inventing superfluous terminology, at least make it less embarrassing to say, or hear, or read.

Joseph | 20 Apr 2004

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