Magnate vs. magnet

The noun magnate, referring to a powerful or influential person in business or industry, is traditionally pronounced MAG-nate, but it’s sometimes pronounced MAG-net. And because the latter pronunciation is now in the world, the occasional use of magnet in place of the less common word is inevitable. For example, these writers use magnet where they obviously mean magnate:

I decided to become a 12-year-old oil magnet. [Lancaster Eagle-Gazette  (article now offline)]

The Nigerian business magnet is now richer than long-time white South African billionaire. [Nigeria Daily Independent]

The opposite error is less common but not unheard of—for example:

Power is a great magnate for those who seek to use influence to benefit themselves. [National Post]

These writers spell magnate correctly:

He was not interested in the main subjects of the painting—the railroad magnate and his well-dressed companions, picnicking on a lawn. [Lantern Review]

On 23,000 acres of scrubby hills surrounding the Warasgaon dam’s backwaters, a Mumbai construction magnate dreams of building a city. [Financial Times]

Wine magnate Joe Corban’s teenage grandson has been charged with pointing a laser at a helicopter on Friday night. [New Zealand Herald]

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