''Turn to magic'' in everyday American English

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,


First the contexts in American English.

a. ''A wealthy family turns to magic to save the matriarch who has remarried a strict man.'' [Washingtonpost.com]
b. ''White House turns to ‘Magic’ to sell Obamacare. Eager for an assist in getting young Americans to sign up for Obamacare, the White House is turning to NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.'' [Yahoo - News - USA]

My question: I know that the phrase "turn to magic" means "use magic (supernatural powers - maybe through a ritual)'' to obtain something you wouldn't normally have. I also know that in the second example "turn to Magic" (Magic here refers to the basketball player), but it (the play on words) really shows that the expression may be widespread in the USA. So, what do you think? Can I use "turn to magic" when I want to say "use magic (supernatural powers - maybe through a ritual)'' to obtain something you wouldn't normally have'' in American English in everyday conversation?

Ex.: She turned to magic to find a husband. [my example]

Thank you in advance!
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    The phrase "turns to" has for me the implication of "...as a last resort." "We've tried all the reasonable solutions—they didn't work—let's try magic."
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Thank you for your answer.

    The phrase "turns to" has for me the implication of "...as a last resort." "We've tried all the reasonable solutions—they didn't work—let's try magic."
    That's exactly what I'm looking for - as a last resort. Would you use (''turn to magic'') in everyday conversation?

    Thank you in advance!
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I might use "turn to <something>" in every day conversation, but "magic" is extremely unlikely to be the "something." I'm positive I will never turn to Magic Johnson to solve my problems.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    I'm not sure that turn to always implies a last resort.

    When her teacher's explanation was unclear, Sally turned to the internet for answers.

    Xavier, it's important that you understand that "turn to" is a common phrasal verb and is not necessarily related to magic.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Moreover, "turn to" is in our dictionary

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    turn tovb
    • (intr, adverb) to set about a task

     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Turn to magic" can be an option, according to safe occurences (American newspapers, etc) online, but it's not widespread.
    The Washington Post site seems to show that as a sentence from a review, but it does not occur in the review which seems to be of an different play entirely. If we knew what play it was in, we could discuss why this family believes that magic is real or what it means but as it is... Let's say that it's fine for witches and wizards to turn to magic to solve their problems.
     
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