2

I'm looking for a single word, noun or adjective, that conveys the meaning "having the power to both create and destroy" something specific. For example:

The magician seemingly had < insert word here > over rabbits, able to pull them from thin air, and equally return them to nothingness

Or

The network administrator can both create and delete user accounts, they have < insert word here > over/on/with user accounts.

Some words that I've considered but don't quite fit are

  • sovereignty (too specific to politics)
  • potency (not quite right)
  • omnipotence (implies non specific power)

To clear some things up in response to comments.

  • the creation/destruction need not be physical.
  • there's no wizardry involved. Regarding the magician, think stage performer not wizard
  • the word should not be limited to power over a specific thing, e.g. sovereignty grants per to create and repeal laws, but not the power to create and destroy rabbits
  • the word should be modifiable in combination with a subject to indicate a single thing or concept to which the power applies
  • the word should not be too general, such as omnipotence meaning power over everything
9
  • This is quite far from the mark, but refiability (from reify) may be a slight nudge in the right direction. The ability to construct is explicit; to destroy, implicit.
    – Lawrence
    May 1, 2016 at 11:05
  • For the wizzard, consider "omnipotence" or "overwhelming or full power". For the network administrator, you may use "full authority".
    – Graffito
    May 1, 2016 at 11:24
  • full power, total control, would fit.
    – arrivalin
    May 1, 2016 at 11:54
  • In the real, physical world, it is impossible to create or destroy matter. The laws in question are some of the most fundamental humanity currently knows of: the conversation of mass (or, equivalently and more commonly used, the conservation of energy). So the wizard's magic must be precisely in breaking or subverting these laws. So you could riff on the idea of your sorcerers being "conservity-breaking" or "non-conservative", etc. Or, you could invoke Noether's theorem relating conservation laws to symmetries, and say your magi are "time variant" (vs "time invariance").
    – Dan Bron
    May 1, 2016 at 12:49
  • I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it. May 1, 2016 at 13:21

7 Answers 7

1

As invited:

Consider reifiability (from reify) as a nudge in the right direction:

Reify verb Make (something abstract) more concrete or real - ODO

The ability to construct is explicit in the term, and the ability to destroy is implicit.

4
  • Has this word ever been seen in a dictionary or in the wild?
    – Greybeard
    Feb 24, 2023 at 17:50
  • @Greybeard. Yes, my ODO link is an instance of this "seen in a dictionary" (ODO has been replaced by dictionary.com since I posted my answer). It's also used "in the wild" quite a bit in some branches of computing. See, for example, page 299 of the volume "Interactive Theorem Proving".
    – Lawrence
    Feb 24, 2023 at 18:18
  • That's reify, which is fine: it's "reifiability" that worries me.
    – Greybeard
    Feb 24, 2023 at 21:15
  • @Greybeard English is a productive language. Adding -able turns the verb into an adjective (see this wiktionary entry), and adding -ability turns the verb into a noun.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 2, 2023 at 15:38
3

There is a legal sense of absolute ownership in dominion that might fit.

"Perfect control in right of ownership. The word implies both title and possession and appears to require a complete retention of control over disposition. Title to an article of property, which arises from the power of disposition and the right of claiming it..."

There is also an idiomatic use: gain dominion over someone or something: to achieve total authority over someone or something.

1
  • Nice, but also implies more control than I intend
    – sirlark
    May 1, 2016 at 15:51
0

I guess you can use omnipotent

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/omnipotent

2
  • 1
    Thanks, I considered that, and have updated the question accordingly. I'm looking for something without the connotation of power over everything. Also, the ability to create and/or destroy does not imply the ability to control, which omnipotence does
    – sirlark
    May 1, 2016 at 13:31
  • 1
    Please explain why you feel this answers the question.
    – tchrist
    May 1, 2016 at 14:55
0

My understanding is that you want a word for "power" that applies to both the ability to materialize/ manifest/ conjure/ generate/ summon/ annihilate or reify/ concretize through a performative utterance, or prestidigitation, as well as the word for something that is in your purview.

Based on your follow-up comments, it seems like you want a word that isn't too strong (dominion/sovereignty are too strong to use), so I think part of the challenge is to find a word that's not too strong for purview but strong enough for prestidigitation. To resolve this, I'm thinking of finding a word that works for the latter "purview example", that can be used metaphorically in the "prestidigitation example". (Or just use "power"! Or just use two words for each situation! Based on your clarification, I'm still not quite sure what's wrong with "power"?) You liked "reify" but that doesn't work for both examples, does it?

Words like "command, authority, governance, purview" come to mind. However, I think the word that comes closest to working for both examples is "prerogative". Pregoative can refer to a "power or immunity" that is unique to the situation you deploy the word. In other words:

Prerogative

"a right, privilege, [power,] etc. unique to a specific person or persons of a particular category"

The "power" sense of prerogative can be specific to a governance/polity, but can also be metaphorical, as in "it's your prerogative to [do something]".

I think that captures all of your stipulations: not necessarily physical power, works for magician example, not limited to one thing (such as state power), not overly general either (eg, omnipotence). The word is also "modifiable in combination with a subject to indicate a single thing or concept to which the power applies", for example, "royal prerogatives" or perhaps "existential prerogatives" (example) when referring to being about to magically being able to bring/remove something from existence. Prerogative also works for the more quotidian example of a network administrator.

refs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performative_utterance https://www.dictionary.com/browse/prerogative https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/prerogative https://cio.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/corporate-news/hyperautomation-an-existential-prerogative-for-organizations/89816390?redirect=1

-1

Reimancy- The overarching magic school of conjuration- the ability to bring something into existance from seemingly nothing, and abjuration- the ability to make something become nothing. This looks like its creating or destroying a thing, but its merely moving it somewhere else in the multiverse.

1
  • -1: this answer is completely incorrect. Reimancy doesn't exist in English, it's an invented word used by a fantasy roleplaying site. Abjuration is the renunciation of something by oath: your definition is an invention. Nov 23, 2018 at 2:00
-1

Metamorphosis - the ability to change form (destroy the old and create the new), and both butterflies and magicians do it... Essentially, the technical term for what you describe is "change".

1
  • 1
    This doesn't work for either example given in the question. Feb 24, 2023 at 2:49
-3

The magician seemingly had meddle over rabbits, able to pull them from thin air, and equally return them to nothingness.

Or

The network administrator can both create and delete user accounts, they have meddled over/on/with user accounts.

I think the word 'meddle' is what you're looking for simply because it implies an unfinished state of being, somewhere between 'creation' and 'destruction'.

2
  • 1
    I've never seen "meddled" as anything but the past tense or past participle of meddle. Is it possible you're thinking of another word?
    – user888379
    Nov 23, 2018 at 1:37
  • 1
    meddle means "interfere in something that is not one's concern", which is not the meaning the OP is looking for. Also, it's a verb - it's incorrect to say "had meddle over" (using it as a noun). Nov 23, 2018 at 1:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.