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From Old French ensorceler (to cast a spell, enchant; to captivate), a variant of ensorcerer, from en- (prefix meaning ‘caused’) + sorcier (sorcerer)[1] (ultimately from Latin sors (fate, lot; oracular response), from Proto-Indo-European *ser- (to bind)).





ensorcell (third-person singular simple present ensorcells, present participle ensorcelling, simple past and past participle ensorcelled) (British spelling)

  1. (transitive) To bewitch or enchant.
    • 1589 [June?], George Puttenham, “Of Figures Sententious, otherwise Called Rhetoricall”, in The Arte of English Poesie: [], London: Printed by Richard Field, [], →OCLC; republished as Edward Arber, editor, The Arte of English Poesie (English Reprints; 15), London: Alex. Murray & Son, [], 10 April 1869, →OCLC, book III (Of Ornament), page 232:
      Not any one of all theſe honord parts / Your Princely happes, and habites that do moue, / And as it were, enſorcell all the hearts / Of Chriſten kings to quarrell for your loue, []
    • 1888, “Tale of the Second Damsel”, in Henry [Whitelock] Torrens, transl., The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night: From the Arabic of the Ægyptian M.S. [] Done into English, volume I, Calcutta: W. Thacker & Co., [], London: W[illia]m H[oughton] Allen & Co., [], →OCLC, page 182:
      [H]e called into presence the kazees and the witnesses, and brought in the three Qurundeels, and brought in the first damsel, and her own sister who had been ensorceled, and he married the three to the three Qurundeels, who had informed him that they were kings, []
    • 1991, Joel Streicker, Sentiment and Self-interest: Constructing Class and Gender Identities in Cartagena, Colombia (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation), volume 1, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University, →OCLC, page 158:
      Juana Maria did not explain why the father had ensorcelled her nephew, though others told me he did it because the nephew had "damaged" ["deflowered"] the girl and then refused to marry her.
    • 1992, Karen J. Brison, “Leaders as Bad Men and Victims”, in Just Talk: Gossip, Meetings, and Power in a Papua New Guinea Village (Studies in Melanesian Anthropology; 11), Berkeley, Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, →ISBN, page 209:
      Suroho defended his village by ensorceling enemies who tried to encroach on village land. [] Suroho was accused of ensorceling fellow villagers, and this made him so unpopular that his sons had to find wives in other villages.
    • 1996, Bertrice Small, Wild Jasmine, 1st mass market edition, New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, →ISBN, page 384:
      The woman was obviously a witch. An evil, ungodly creature who would tolerate popery. A foul creature who had lured her husband into his besotted state with her beauty, and probably ensorceled other men as well.
    • 1998, Alan R. Felthous, “Psychotic Perceptions of Pet Animals in Defendants Accused of Violent Crimes”, in Randall Lockwood, Frank R. Ascione, editors, Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Application, West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, →ISBN, section 3 (Case Studies, Case Control, and Prospective Research), page 125:
      A 52-year-old widower, Mr. A, was referred for a psychiatric evaluation to help in the determination of whether he was competent to stand trial and whether he had mental illness which met criteria for the insanity defense. [] [H]e also believed that she was in a conspiracy with his unnamed enemies to ensorcel him.
    • 2000, Christopher O. Davis, Death in Abeyance: Illness and Therapy among the Tabwa of Central Africa (International African Library; 23), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute, →ISBN, page 140:
      She joked about her previous suspicions of sorcery, saying that one claims one has been ensorcelled, but, really, the sorcery was one's own body.
    • 2009, Daniel Albright, “Heine and the Composers”, in Music Speaks: On the Language of Opera, Dance, and Song (Eastman Studies in Music; 69), Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, →ISBN, →ISSN, page 33:
      This gentle poem is a model of reader-response theory: the song moulders in the book until the reader, the One Right Reader, ensorcels it, ensouls it.
    • 2011, James H[oke] Sweet, “Algarve”, in Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World, Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, →ISBN, page 208:
      Manuel Mestre, for example, suspected Dias of ensorcelling people in the past. She had threatened his sister's children on several occasions.
    • 2016 November 7, Heather Schwedel, “Let Rachel McAdams Time-travel!”, in Slate[1], archived from the original on 14 September 2017:
      In Doctor Strange, which ensorcelled the forces of the universe to the tune of $85 million at the box office this weekend, love interest Rachel McAdams is “wasted,” lamented Slate’s Jacob Brogan in his review of the movie. McAdams plays an emergency room doctor, which is pretty cool … but not as cool as the ability to manipulate time, which is among Doctor Strange’s superhero powers—so it’s no wonder Benedict Cumberbatch gets to have all the fun in the movie. Perhaps this will teach McAdams once and for all: Girl, stop playing second fiddle to time-traveling men.
    • 2017, Kelwyn Sole, “The New Explorers”, in Walking, Falling, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa: Deep South, →ISBN, part II, page 40:
      As they walk on, a world of glass and steel / ensorcels and surrounds them / so even as they move, they never find an exit.
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To captivate, entrance, fascinate.
    • 2013, Fiona Hobden, “Politics in Action”, in The Symposion in Ancient Greek Society and Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 157:
      [A] distinction is drawn between the man who speaks as a friend and the man who acts like one. Not only might someone fail to live up to his words in deed, but he may ‘ensorcell’ or ‘beguile’ (θέλγοι) a fellow drinker, leading him to believe in friendship that is not supported by his conduct.

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  1. ^ ensorcell, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1891; ensorcell”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.