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According to the dictionary, both words mean magic. But there's got to be some difference, even if it's subtle. Is one more to do with wizardry and the other with magic tricks? Or is it something else?

I've noticed phrases like black magic use magia, i.e. magia negra. Would it be unusual to say mágico negro? If so, why?

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    "magico negro" sounds like the name of a nightclub. – rnrneverdies Nov 8 '14 at 17:11
  • Magia is the noun, mágico it's related adjective – Bardo Nov 14 '14 at 13:25
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I would say that today, for virtually all uses, magia is used as the noun form and mágico as the adjective form.

La mágica (note: feminine only) is also the art of magic, and mágico/a can be used to refer to a practitioner of magic, although more common is either ilusionista (modern performers) or mago/a (supernatural practitioners).

This may vary some by region but I don't think so.

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    In Spain it would be magia (never mágica) for the art of magic and mago/maga for magicians (never mágicos nor mágicas). – Diego Nov 8 '14 at 23:38
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    @Diego Indeed, that's how I use it (I should probably start noting in posts like this that I speak Castilian Spanish). I was just adding that from the DRAE where mágica is "la ciencia o arte de magia". But it must be used somewhere, because in the 23rd DRAE just out, mágico was split into two entries. One just for la mágica as the art and the other for mágico/a as adjective and practitioner. – user0721090601 Nov 8 '14 at 23:46
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    Wow! DRAE says that? This is like the question of el sartén. I wish they included information about _where it is used like that when they include some of these entries. Anyway, I was just trying to add my two cents. I think your answer nailed it explaining one is a noun and the other and adj. (Actually you posted your answer as I was writing mine with the same info, so I could do little more that discard my draft and vote yours... :) ) – Diego Nov 9 '14 at 0:39
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    @Diego In the DA, almost every time the word mágica was used, it was in the phrase arte mágica, and there is no separate entry for mágica (mágico only defined as practitioner), so that might be how it came to be, people got tired of saying arte mágica and just started saying mágica. – user0721090601 Nov 9 '14 at 1:26
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    @Diego But in one of the entries, a quote: "Uno de los naturales fue el que hizo las encantaciones, porque la Mágica era aquí natural y propria". In the NDHE (1st) I found "Mostrarme estampas, que me parecieron de mágica, y figuras que tuve por capricho de algún pintor demente", "Por su arte de nigromancia o mágica le hizo estéril", and in the NDHE (2nd) I found "Que la Muerte / Mágica es, que fingir sabe / mil phantasmas aparentes" – user0721090601 Nov 9 '14 at 1:33
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Magia = Magic

Mágico/Mágica = Magical

You don't say "This is black magical" ;)

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  • This answer could really stand to be expanded, because in English, Magic and Magical are often synonyms. I believe you're trying to make a distinction between the noun and the adjective, but your answer doesn't sufficiently do that. "I have a magic hat" and "I have a magical hat" use both words as adjectives, for instance. – Flimzy Nov 10 '14 at 0:58
  • Further, "negro" can be a noun (black person, or the colour itself), so "mágico negro" could make sense. – leonbloy Nov 10 '14 at 2:20

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