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See also: shamán


English Wikipedia has an article on:
A shaman



Borrowed from German Schamane,[1] from Russian шама́н (šamán),[1] from Evenki шама̄н (şamān), сама̄н (samān).[2] The Evenki word is possibly derived from the root ша- ("to know");[3] or else a loanword from Tocharian B ṣamāne (monk)[4] or Chinese 沙門沙门 (shāmén, Buddhist monk), from Pali samaṇa from Sanskrit श्रमण (śramaṇa, ascetic, monk, devotee), from श्रम (śrama, weariness, exhaustion; labor, toil; etc.), which would make this a doublet of Sramana.[4]


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shaman (plural shamans)

  1. A traditional faith healer.
    Synonym: witch doctor
  2. A member of certain tribal societies who acts as a spiritual or religious medium between the concrete and spirit worlds; sometimes also a healer.
    Hyponym: wu (Chinese shaman)
    Near-synonyms: medicine man, medicine woman, priest-doctor, witch doctor
    • 2010, BioWare, Mass Effect 2 (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →OCLC, PC, scene: Tuchanka:
      Shepard: What rites did you go through to become chief shaman?
      Shaman: Becoming the shaman is excruciating. I passed through rites that made me wish to die. I carry the scars on my soul.
      Shaman: I must perform rites each dawn and dusk to keep me bound into our krogan nature. Our spirit is one of violence and death. I must be attuned to that.

Usage notes

  • The plural form is shamans, not shamen;[8] the etymologically-consistent plural form from the original Evenki is shamasal,[9] but this form sees no use in English; the plural form shamans is, however, universally accepted.[10]

Derived terms





  1. 1.0 1.1 shaman”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. ^ shaman”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
  3. ^ Mihály, Hoppál. Sámánok Eurázsiában (Budapest: Akadémiai K., 2005), 15
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fortson, Benjamin W. (2010) Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, second edition, Oxford: Blackwell
  5. 5.0 5.1 shaman, n. (and a.)” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 shaman” listed in Merriam–Webster’s Online Dictionary (retrieved on 19 September 2008)
  7. 7.0 7.1 shaman” listed in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition (2000)
  8. ^ 1978, Carl B. Compton, The Interamerican, volume 25, №3 (Instituto Interamericano, Denton, Texas) We learn from our readers: We have been wrong in writing the word “shamen” as a plural for “shaman”. The word probably comes from Russian and there is no plural except that made by adding an ‘s’ — e.g. Shamans.
  9. ^ 2003, Howard Isaac Aronson, Dee Ann Holisky, and Kevin Tuite, Current Trends in Caucasian, East European, and Inner Asian Linguistics — “Dialect Continua in Tungusic: Plural Morphology”, page 103 (John Benjamin’s Publishing Company; →ISBN [] we note here that -sal tends to exist only as a residual plural marker in -l/-r dialects. For example, in Standard Evenki, as in the Evenki dialects of the Amur basin and the Vivin dialect, use of -sal is limited to a small number of nouns (e.g. bajan “rich person”, pl. bajasal; ɲami:, “female reindeer”, pl. ɲami:sal or ɲami:səl; aβlan “field”, pl. aβlasal; sama:n “shaman”, pl. sama:sal).
  10. ^ 2005, Peter Metcalf, Anthropology: The Basics, box 7.3: “Shamanism”, page 132 (Routledge; →ISBN Note that the plural of shaman is shamans, not shamen.