magic number


: one of a set of numbers for which an atomic nucleus exhibits a high degree of stability when either the proton or neutron count is equal to the number
: a number that represents a combination of wins for a leader (such as in a baseball pennant race) and losses for a contender which mathematically guarantees the leader's winning the championship

Word History

First Known Use

1947, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of magic number was in 1947

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Cite this Entry

“Magic number.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

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