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What Is The Difference Between A Wizard And A Sorcerer?

Many people tend to regard both a Wizard and a Sorcerer as nothing more than two different names for one thing. While it may be the case in some stories, it not always the case in others. Not many of us familiar with those character type look any further than their names.

If there are any differences between them, what are they?

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Let us first look at the title of ‘Sorcerer.’ If you are wondering, yes it can indeed be used as a synonym for a wizard. But from the information available on the internet, it also may depend on the story whether or not a staff-wielding magician is a ‘sorcerer.’

The name alone seems to engender a sense of dread when one hears or reads the word. It is very common to see in books or movies. In Disney’s Aladdin, the character Jafar refers to himself as a powerful sorcerer, thus giving credence to the idea that sorcerers are evil.

On the other side of the coin, there are also quite a few stories where all magic users are referred to as sorcerers. The movie Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) is a great example of ‘sorcerers’ both good and evil. Good guys Balthazar Blake and his apprentice Dave have to fight against the evil Morgana La Fey and Horvath.


First, let’s discuss wizardry and witchcraft in the Harry Potter universe. Male magic users in the ‘wizarding world’ are referred to as wizards while their female counterparts are known as witches.

Voldemort, or ‘he who shall not be named,’ was a former student of Hogwarts and despite his nature, was simply an evil ‘wizard.’ Some might argue that the moment he chose to first do something evil, he came an evil sorcerer.

Harry Potter, though, was the epitome of a ‘good’ wizard in his own universe. Although the first movie was titled the ‘Sorcerer’s Stone,’ it was simply a marketing move for when the film released in the United States.

Lord of the Rings

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings universe, Gandalf and the other four wizards are far more complicated than they initially appear. They are members of the Istari or wizard order and they actually aren’t even human. They are angels or Maiar who were created by the Allfather when he created the gods of Middle Earth.

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The powers of those from Valinor (first home of the five wizards) come naturally from their creation as higher beings. While there are others who wield magic as Gandalf and his brethren do, anyone who doesn’t belong to the wizard order may be referred to as a sorcerer or sorceress.

Another aspect of Tolkien’s universe is how significant it is when a wizard leaves their home to be part of historic events. It means that angels walk shoulder to shoulder with what the author referred to as ‘the free peoples.’

Depending on the other stories people may read, one of the more consistent points of a wizard’s story is how ageless they are, despite their outward physical appearance.

Other ‘Wizards’

Both the terms sorcerer and wizard are rooted mostly in fantasy novels and stories. Thanks to how widely used ‘wizard’ is, it has become attached to many subjects having almost nothing to do with fantasy.

Rock band The Who, named one of their songs ‘Pinball Wizard.’ That would also be the ‘nickname’ given to someone particularly skilled at the machine or another activity such as math computation or archery.

If you have a knack for saving and spending money in a way that earns you even more, you would be known as a ‘financial wizard.’

In the computer sciences, there is a digital computer tool used to help inexperienced users known also known as a ‘wizard.’

Bobby Fisher, one of the greatest chess players to have ever lived, was widely known as a chess wizard.

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It seems that no matter how much time passes, a sorcerer might always be associated with a negative connotation simply because of the characters so widely associated with the term. But despite that, we know from the many stories that exist, there are good sorcerers and there are bad sorcerers.

Wizards, on the other hand, will likely first be associated with good things before anything evil.

Aside from their names and the exact origin of their magic, wizards and sorcerers are exactly the same.

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  • Ian Elliott

    I like the scene in The Wizard of Oz when the wizard admits to Dorothy that he can’t send her home. “I think you’re a very bad man!” Dorothy exclaims. “Oh no, child!” he replies. “I’m a very good man; I’m just – a very bad wizard!!”

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