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(EDITORS: Merriam Webster's WORDWATCH, a weekly Q&A on the origins of words, moves each Thursday on the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service; it is available for use by all KRT News Service subscribers.)
Merriam-Webster's Wordwatch: Discover the origin of more than 1,500 words in Merriam-Webster's ``New Book of Word Histories.''
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Q. I was telling my children the story of the Three Magi, and it got me wondering about the word ``magi.'' Where does it come from? Is it ever used anywhere else?
A. ``Magi'' is the plural of ``magus,'' a Latin word that originally referred to ``a member of a hereditary priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians.'' Its Greek root is …