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[mag-nit] /ˈmæg nɪt/

a body, as a piece of iron or steel, that possesses the property of attracting certain substances, as iron.
a lodestone.
a thing or person that attracts:
The park was a magnet for pickpockets and muggers.
variant of before some vowels:
a body that can attract certain substances, such as iron or steel, as a result of a magnetic field; a piece of ferromagnetic substance See also electromagnet
a person or thing that exerts a great attraction

mid-15c. (earlier magnes, late 14c.), from Old French magnete “magnetite, magnet, lodestone,” and directly from Latin magnetum (nominative magnes) “lodestone,” from Greek ho Magnes lithos “the Magnesian stone,” from Magnesia, region in Thessaly where magnetized ore was obtained. Figurative use from 1650s. It has spread from Latin to most Western European languages (cf. German and Danish magnet, Dutch magneet, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese magnete), but it was superseded in French by aimant. Also cf. magnesia. Chick magnet attested from 1989.
A material or object that produces a magnetic field. Lodestones are natural magnets, though many materials, especially metals, can be made into magnets by exposing them to a magnetic field. See also electromagnet, ferromagnetism, magnetic pole. See Note at magnetism.

An object that attracts iron and some other materials. Magnets are said to generate a magnetic field around themselves. Every magnet has two poles, called the north and south poles. Magnetic poles exert forces on each other in such a way that like poles repel and unlike poles attract each other. A compass is a small magnet that is affected by the magnetic field of the Earth in such a way that it points to a magnetic pole of the Earth. (See magnetic field and magnetism.)


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