Iron, or other materials, can be used as the core of an electromagnet, to get a stronger field. What verb describes what the iron does? I'm tempted to say that it conducts the field, but I know that's not right.

(It's not a question about the English language, as was given as a reason for closing the question; it's a question about terminology. If it were a question about electrical current, then "conduct" would be the correct term; but it's not, it's about a magnetic field.)

(And answer anywhere you like; in the comments is fine with me.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This question (v2) has been flagged for being more about the English language than physics so I'm closing it. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Mar 15, 2018 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ The question is not just about English. Behind the terminology is also a view of what is going on. Some people like to analyze magnetic phenomena in terms of circuits and concepts like reluctance en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_circuit . I prefer to say that the field magnetizes the iron, or induces magnetization of the iron, or aligns the domains. It gives a better explanation of what is going on. $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Mar 15, 2018 at 6:50

1 Answer 1


I have heard:

  • the iron enhances the magnetic field

  • the iron beefs up the magnetic field

  • the iron gathers the magnetic field lines (which is true for $B$, but not for $H$, which is why some experimentalists call $H$ the "magnetic field" and $B$ the "magnetic induction")

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. I assumed that there was a precise term for the phenomenon -- most things in physics are clearly defined and named -- but it seems that I was wrong. $\endgroup$
    – user184411
    Mar 16, 2018 at 22:07

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