I'm looking for a more descriptive choice of words to evoke the sense of "magic in the air", or "something in the water", something intangible, hard to place, etc, to describe a phenomenon that is ostensibly unexplainable or unplaceable, so the best explanation is attributing it to some supernatural power.

The community's unmistakably rural feel is not due to [something intangible]; it can be explained by zoning and minimum lot size regulations.

So far, the best word that gets at what I'm trying to say is "alchemy" or something along those lines: witchcraft, black magic, etc. Are there any idioms that capture this idea as well? I'm seeking either single words, or multiple word phrases. I understand that the words I've floated so far span a range of connotations; I'd welcome suggestions covering a spectrum of positive to negative connotations.

Any insight on this type of construction would be appreciated. Especially examples of similar ideas expressed in literature or common speech.

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    (1) Can you clarify this question a little?  You mention “magic in the air”, which is light and typically used euphemistically, but then you go to “witchcraft” and “black magic”, which are much heavier and darker.  What tone are you looking for?  (2) You speak of “choice of words” and “this type of construction”, and you tagged the question [expressions] and [idioms].  So, do you specifically want a (multi-word) phrase, or will you accept individual words (like “magic” or “alchemy”)? … … … … … … … … … Please do not respond in comments; edit your question to make it clearer and more complete. Commented May 10, 2018 at 4:01
  • You misunderstand the meaning of "magic in the air".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 13:17

5 Answers 5


The word ambience is defined by the Oxford online dictionary as "The character and atmosphere of a place." The "unmistakably rural feel" of the community is, of course, it's ambience but to make the distinction between something inherent and something contrived you could use the phrase "its natural ambience" in the space left in you text.


I would modify any dismissive term for a magical power with the word "Geographical". This would make almost any choice of magical or phantasmagorical power into a localized element.

You could use Spirit, Hex, Spell, Mojo, Voodoo. The list would be long. My personal choice would be Geographical Mojo.

  • Mojo doesn't seem to fit the tone of what OP's trying to write. I get that it's a legitimate word, but it's mostly used sarcastically or for comedic effect.
    – VTH
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 6:08

The community's unmistakably rural feel is not due to nostalgia; it can be explained by zoning and minimum lot size regulations.

I selected that word for an abstract intangible since the sentence speaks to the flavor of a rural community.

synonyms: wistfulness · longing/yearning/pining for the past · regret · regretfulness · reminiscence · remembrance · recollection · homesickness · sentimentality


The closest I can think of is serendipity.

The community's unmistakably rural feel is not due to serendipity; it can be explained by zoning and minimum lot size regulations.


NOUN [mass noun]
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

‘You might say this is serendipity, but you really have to make these things happen.’


Perhaps you wish to convey a sense of "otherworldly" attributes, something intangible. ETHEREAL is used to define something with abstract, nonphysical qualities, per The Oxford Language Dictionary.

  • Ethereal doesn't really fit the sample sentence given in the question. Commented Mar 20 at 19:08

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