Many terms used in the context of Magic derive their names from individual cards. The usual example is to mill, which is derived from the effect of the card Millstone. Another common example is tutoring, from the card Demonic Tutor.

I've seen people stating that ramping is another example of this effect. "Ramp," meaning mana acceleration, is then claimed to derive from the card Rampant Growth, first printed in 1996.

"Ramp derives from Rampant Growth" is the sort of overly cute folk etymology that you expect to just be an urban legend. At first glance, it seems much more likely that the term comes from the expression "ramping up," or from the noun "ramp" in the sense of an inclined surface.

However, I've done some preliminary research on various Usenet groups. (Specifically rec.games.trading-cards.magic.* and rec.games.deckmaster.) I could find no evidence that the term "ramp" was actually used before the card Rampant Growth was released. In its place, the term fast mana appears (I've linked to an example.)

However, this doesn't prove that one derives from the other. Just that "ramping" wasn't in use before 1996, and doesn't seem to have been common before about the early 2000s.

So... any ideas?

  • 5
    You can't prove a negative. Unless someone finds concrete evidence that the term "ramp" was used this way before Rampant Growth was printed, all we can say is that the claimed etymology has not been ruled out.
    – murgatroid99
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 15:30
  • 1
    Proof would be hard to find, yeah. I was hoping for evidence that suggests one etymology over the other. For example, if we could find a history of people saying things like "ramping up" their mana production, that would suggest the term doesn't derive from Rampant Growth. On the other hand, if people said "Rampant Growth" effects and shortened that, it would suggest the term is derived from the card.
    – user8156
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:35
  • Why not it be a mix of both? In a hypothetical scenario, if the initial card were instead named "asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar's growth", surely people would have leaned towards "growth" as the part of the card to say for short to describe the action.
    – JMoravitz
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 2:00
  • If it eventually evolves into some kind of keyword, it would be another candidate answer to my question Which keywords (besides 'mill') have been named after Magic cards?
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 17:33
  • It could just be short for "ramp up"
    – Zags
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 20:05


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