magnate » magnet
Spotted in the wild:
- “… I was… reading over an American woman’s shoulder as she e-mailed a friend about her plans for the rest of July: ‘I’m going to find a shipping magnet and marry him!’” (Details magazine, October 2005, p. 152)
- “… she was a playwright, journalist, magazine editor, conservative politician, ambassador, and wife of publishing magnet Henry Luce.” (link)
- “‘I have always had a fascination for antique textiles and costumes,’ admits the suave textile magnet, lounging on the comfortable couch …” (link)
Analyzed or reported by:
- Ken Rudolph (Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, 15 October 2005)
After Ken Rudolph supplied the first cite above, I googled up lots of “X magnet” ‘X tycoon’ examples, for X = shipping, newspaper, mining, textile, oil, publishing, business, real estate, liquor, automobile, fashion. Undoubtedly there are more.
There are also many occurrences of “X magnet” referring to something, someplace, or someone that attracts X. This is a possible
contribution to the replacement of the rare “magnate” ‘tycoon’ by the much more common “magnet”: an X magnate is someone who attracts X business(es) to himself (or, much more rarely, herself).
Unfortunately, as Jed Davis pointed out on soc.motss on 17 October 2005, there are also hundreds of references to “magnate schools” (for “magnet schools”), which suggests that MWDEU might be right in thinking that there is just a spelling confusion here. Not (yet) in Brians, for what that’s worth. In any case, I’ve labeled it as questionable.