Middle English, slender stick, from Old Norse vǫndr; probably akin to Old English windan to wind, twist
- Date: 13th century
- 1 : a slender staff carried in a procession : verge
- 2 : a slender rod used by conjurers and magicians
- 3 : a slat six feet by two inches used as a target in archery; also : a narrow strip of paper pasted vertically on a target face
- 4 : any of various pipelike devices; especially : the rigid tube between the hose and the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner
- 5 : a handheld device used to enter information (as from a bar code) into a computer
A wand is a thin, straight, hand-held stick of wood, stone, 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 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 is capable of turning people into stone.
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 often use a wand, possibly with a star or some form of decoration on the end, while Gandalf would most likely not (however, in The Hobbit, he is said to use a wand, referring to his staff, 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.