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Named for the hypnotist character Svengali in George du Maurier's novel Trilby. More at citations.



svengali (plural svengalis)

  1. One who manipulates or controls another as by some mesmeric or sinister influence; especially a coach, mentor or industry mogul.
    • 2005 October 15, Hamilton Spectator:
      She also offers a fascinating glimpse into a more innocent age before svengalis began colluding with marketing men and TV execs to promote talentless wannabes to overnight success.
    • 2014 March 31, in Jon Ronson’s “Lost at Sea” :
      The Tam Paton of today is nothing like the fearsome Svengali you would see on television during the Roller years. (It is used in multiple other occasions in this book)
    • 2016 February 2016, in Hugh Hewitt's "Six reasons Trump is still better than Clinton" in the Washington Examiner:
      Donald's daughter and Svengali Ivanka is a smart, smart, smart lady with an extraordinary intellect and influence on her father.
    • 2016 November 18, Jamelle Bouie, “Government by the Worst Men”, in Slate[1]:
      We have Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart known for his open ties to white supremacists, anti-Semites, and foreign reactionaries in France and Russia. Bannon is a Svengali of sorts for the ugliest forces in American and international politics, a man who believes the Western world is in a fundamental struggle with Islam and who sees multiculturalism and liberal openness as a threat to the future of the West.


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