AskDefine | Define wand

Dictionary Definition



1 a baton used by a magician or water diviner
2 a ceremonial or emblematic staff [syn: scepter, sceptre, verge]

User Contributed Dictionary

see wand



Old High German want


  • /vant/
  • /vant/


Wand f

Extensive Definition

A wand consists of a thin, straight, hand-held stick of wood, ivory, or metal. Generally, in modern language, wands are ceremonial and/or have associations with magic but there have been other uses, all stemming from the original meaning as a synonym of rod and virge, both of which had a similar development.
The Great Book of Saint Cyprian (aka Ciprianillo) gives step-by-step instructions on how to make a magic wand.


In Pharaonic Egypt, toilette articles, weapons against possible enemies, amulets against serpents, were also left in the tomb, together with magic texts and a magic wand which enabled the ka (soul) to use them. The rod of Moses was a hazel wand. In catacomb frescoes of the third and fourth centuries. In classical Greco-Roman mythology, the god Hermes/Mercury has a special wand called a caduceus.
Six to eight foot long staves with metal tips adorning them are carried traditionally in Freemasonry during rituals of the Craft. Ceremonial uses may have several wands for different purposes, such as the Fire Wand and the Lotus Wand in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In Zoroastrianism, there is a similar ritual implement called a barsom. In Wicca and Ceremonial magic, practitioners use several magical tools including wands for the channeling of energy—they serve a similar purpose to the athame although the two have their distinct uses. While an athame is generally used to command, a wand is seen as more gentle and is used to invite or encourage. Though traditionally made of wood, they can also consist of metal or crystal. Practitioners usually prune a branch from an Oak, Hazel, or other tree, or may even buy wood from a hardware store, and then carve it and add decorations to personalize it; however, one can also purchase ready-made wands. In Wicca the wand usually represents the element fire, or sometimes air, although contemporary wand makers also create wands for the elements of earth and water as well. The Wand is a type magical rod of wood, metal, or glass used for casting spells. Often used by modern Pagans, Wiccans, Shaman and others in rituals, healing and spell casting.
There is some scholarly opinion that the magic wand may have its roots in the drumstick of a shaman, especially in Central Asia and Siberia, as when using it to bang on his drum or point, to perform religious, healing, and magical ceremonies.

Tarot cards

"Wands" is also another name for the suit of Batons or Rods, a suit of the minor arcana of the Tarot. It is normally associated with the element of fire.

Other uses

  • In music, the term sometimes applies to the modern model of conductor's baton (the earlier staff and baton cantoral being heavier and thus unfit for precise gestures).
  • In literary language, "wand" can be a synonym for rod as an implement for corporal punishment, in the generic sense: either a multiple rod or a single branch (switch or cane), but not a specific physical type.
  • Given their various symbolic and other associations, wands are suitable pervertibles, especially for role play.
  • Based on their magical symbolism, stage magicians often use "magic wands" as part of their misdirection. These wands are traditionally black, with white tips.
  • A lacrosse stick is colloquially referred to as a "wand."
  • "To wand" is a colloquial verb that means to check something with a handheld metal detector, such as at the airport and high security buildings.

Wands in fiction

Magic wands commonly feature in works of fantasy fiction as spell-casting tools. Few other common denominators exist, so the capabilities of wands vary wildly. Note that wands fill basically the same role as wizards' staffs, though staffs generally convey a more 'serious' image; a fairy godmother would definitely use a wand, possibly with a star on the end, while Gandalf would most often not (however, in The Hobbit, he is seen using a wand to fight the goblins of the Misty Mountains and their Wargs). In dramatic fiction, wands can serve as weapons in magical duels. Wands are also common in the fictional fantasy world of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
The first magical wand featured in the Odyssey: that of Circe, who used it to transform Odysseus's men into animals. Italian fairy tales put them into the hands of the powerful fairies by the late Middle Ages. In the ballads such as Allison Gross and The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea, the villainesses use silver wands to transform their victims. In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Witch's most feared tool is her wand, whose magic (not necessarily by touch, as in the film) is capable of turning people into stone.

Role-playing and video games

In Dungeons & Dragons and D&D-derived computer role-playing games such as NetHack, wands function as storage devices for specific magical spells, which a wielder can only use a certain number of times before running out of "charges". Wands often allow non-wizard player characters to use spells, and also enable wizards to use spells they couldn't ordinarily cast.
In HARP wands are part of casting traditions and as such aid in casting attempts but are not necessary for all spellcasters.
In The Dark Eye wands are bound to the mage who created them. They serve various purposes and can be enhanced during gameplay by casting special permanent spells on them. For instance, a wand may get the ability to produce light or reduce the spellcasters use of arcane energy. Of course wands can be used as (unbreakable) weapons too.
Wands also feature in a number of other fantasy video games, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, in which they usually serve as one of many weapons available to the player's character.
Wands sometimes don't have any meaningful purpose or effect on play, but are just parts of the story, as in Puyo Pop Fever, where Miss Accord, a character of the game, has lost her wand that she calls her "flying cane."
In Super Mario Bros. 3, the Koopa Kids use wands and in Yoshi's Island, Kamek uses them to transform certain things.
In Diablo II wands are weapons in the staff class that specifically give skill bonuses to the Necromancer character class.
In World of Warcraft, wands are used as elemental-typed, non-spell-damage, ranged weapons for magical class player-characters.
In WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 wrestler / diva Candice Michelle carries a wand down to the ring during her entrance.
In Conquer Online, wands are used as range weapons and for the skill "snow" they can hit multiple targets for just one hit.
In EverQuest II wands are weapons in the staff class and considered one-handed, crushing weapons. They can give skill and stat bonuses to the wielder, and often have a melee damage proc or activatable spell effect. Mage and Priest classes typically use wands, but they can be wielded by the Fighter classes as well. Wands cannot be dual-wielded or used by the Scout classes.



wand in German: Zauberstab
wand in French: Baguette magique
wand in Italian: Bacchetta magica
wand in Portuguese: Varinha Mágica
wand in Russian: Волшебная палочка
wand in Swedish: Trollstav
wand in Dutch: Toverstaf

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Tarnkappe, armory, badge, badge of office, badges, baton, blazonry, brassard, button, caduceus, cap and gown, cap of darkness, chain, chain of office, class ring, cockade, collar, crook, crosier, cross, cross-staff, decoration, divining rod, doodlebug, dowser, dowsing, dowsing rod, dress, eagle, emblems, ensigns, fasces, fern seed, figurehead, fleur-de-lis, gavel, hammer and sickle, heraldry, insignia, lapel pin, livery, mace, magic belt, magic carpet, magic ring, magic spectacles, magic wand, mantle, markings, medal, merrythought, mortarboard, old school tie, pin, portfolio, regalia, ring, rod, rod of office, rose, scepter, school ring, seven-league boots, shamrock, sigillography, skull and crossbones, sphragistics, staff, swastika, tartan, thistle, tie, truncheon, uniform, verge, wand of office, water witch, water witching, wish-bringer, wish-giver, wishbone, wishing bone, wishing cap, wishing stone, wishing well, witching, witching stick
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