When one looks up the etymology of mesmerize, one will find that it dates from 1819, when it was coined with the meaning of “to put into a hypnotic state.” What Etymonline doesn’t mention is that this comes directly from the name of the physician who developed the practice, Franz Mesmer.

When Mesmer developed hypnosis, he originally called it “animal magnetism.” But one of his pupils decided it would be more fun to name it after the inventor (discoverer?) so, called it mesmerize. By the 1860s, however, hypnotize had become the preferred word (from the Greek hypnotikos, “inclined to sleep”) for the procedure. At that point, mesmerize shifted slightly to mean “to enthrall or fascinate.”

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