witch

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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

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From Middle English wicche, from Old English wiċċe (sorceress, witch) f. and wicca (witch, sorcerer, warlock) m., deverbative from wiccian ‘to practice sorcery’, from Proto-Germanic *wikkōną (compare West Frisian wikje, wikke ‘to foretell, warn’, Low German wicken ‘to soothsay’, Dutch wikken, wichelen ‘to dowse, divine’), from Proto-Indo-European *wik-néh₂-, derivative of *weik- ‘to consecrate; separate’;[1] akin to Latin victima ‘sacrificial victim’, Lithuanian viẽkas ‘life-force’, Sanskrit विनक्ति (vinákti) ‘to set apart, separate out’.

Noun[edit]

witch (plural witches)

  1. A person who practices witchcraft; specifically:
    1. A woman who is learned in and actively practices witchcraft.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare:
        He cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch.
    2. (Wicca) A Wiccan.
    3. (archaic outside dialects and Wicca) A man who practices witchcraft.
      • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book I, chapter viij:
        Some of the kynges had merueyl of Merlyns wordes and demed well that it shold be as he said / And som of hem lough hym to scorne / as kyng Lot / and mo other called hym a wytche / But thenne were they accorded with Merlyn that kynge Arthur shold come oute and speke with the kynges
      • (Can we date this quote?) Wyclif Bible (Acts viii. 9)
        There was a man in that city whose name was Simon, a witch.
  1. (derogatory) An ugly or unpleasant woman.
    I hate that old witch.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  2. One who exercises more-than-common power of attraction; a charming or bewitching person.
  3. One given to mischief, especially a woman or child.
  4. (geometry) A certain curve of the third order, described by Maria Agnesi under the name versiera.
  5. The stormy petrel.
  6. Any of a number of flatfish:
    1. Glyptocephalus cynoglossus (Torbay sole), found in the North Atlantic.
    2. Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis (megrim), found in the North Atlantic.
    3. Arnoglossus scapha, found near New Zealand.
Synonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

External links[edit]

Verb[edit]

witch (third-person singular simple present witches, present participle witching, simple past and past participle witched)

  1. (obsolete) To practise witchcraft
    'It approaches the witching hour'.
  2. To bewitch
  3. To dowse for water
Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guus Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 586.

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Compare wick.

Noun[edit]

witch (plural witches)

  1. A cone of paper which is placed in a vessel of lard or other fat and used as a taper.