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 German and Danish magnet, Dutch magneet, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese magnete), but it was superseded in French by aimant.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.