witch

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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

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From Middle English wicche, from Old English wiċċe (witch (female), sorceress) and wiċċa (witch (male), sorcerer, warlock), deverbative from wiċċian (to practice sorcery), from Proto-Germanic *wikkōną (compare West Frisian wikje, wikke (to foretell, warn), German Low German wicken (to soothsay), Dutch wikken, wichelen (to dowse, divine)), from Proto-Indo-European *wik-néh₂-, derivation of *weyk- (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.
    • a. 1472, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum viij”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book I, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, OCLC 71490786; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, OCLC 890162034:
      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.
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:witch.
    1. (now usually particularly) A woman who is learned in and actively practices witchcraft.
      • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, “The Merry VViues of VVindsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene ii]:
        He cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch.
      • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 186:
        It was easy to understand that they were witches, who had turned themselves into ravens.
      • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 106:
        However, the word "witch" came to be applied almost exclusively to women who were believed to achieve their power by making a blood pact with the Devil, sealed with their blood. They were usually old and ugly, and for this reason many unfortunate old ladies, whose only crimes were loneliness and a lack of beauty, went to the stake.
  2. (derogatory) An ugly or unpleasant woman.
    I hate that old witch.
  3. One who exercises more-than-common power of attraction; a charming or bewitching person.
  4. One given to mischief, especially a woman or child.
  5. (geometry) A certain curve of the third order, described by Maria Agnesi under the name versiera.
  6. The stormy petrel.
  7. 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.
  8. The Indomalayan butterfly Araotes lapithis, of the family Lycaenidae.
Synonyms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To practise witchcraft.
  2. (transitive) To bewitch.
    • 1900, Gilbert Murray, Andromache: A Play in Three Acts:
      She has witched the Queen's womb long ago, and witched the whole harvest.
    • 2012, Carol Berg, The Daemon Prism: A Novel of the Collegia Magica, Penguin (→ISBN)
      The little man was seething and shaking, near collapse with fear and anger. “Tell 'em, Alvy.” “A tenday ago, Will came to the Cockatoo acting crazy, so scared he'd pissed hisself. Said the sorcerer had found him in the stables and witched him.”
    • 2014, Charles L. McNichols, Crazy Weather, Counterpoint Press (→ISBN)
      “Maybe the Mormonhater witched him. There's lot of stories being told around about that old man.” “Them's lies,” denied South Boy hotly. “He may have scared Havek, but he never witched him.”
    • 2017, Benjamin R. Kracht, Kiowa Belief and Ritual, U of Nebraska Press (→ISBN), page 134:
      Sometime in 1945 he faced an opponent who apparently “witched” him, causing facial paralysis and dizzy spells that rendered him bedridden. An old Indian doctor came to his bedside, looked into his eyes, and proclaimed that he had been witched by his Seminole adversary.
  3. (intransitive) To dowse for water.
    • 1964, Hilda E. Webb, Water Witching and Other Folk Talents in the Neighborhood of Bloomington, Indiana:
      And I told him there's a vein down there, I know 'caus I used to—uh, I went out here and witched one for this house, at the corner.
    • 2006, Helen Ayers, Appalachian Daughter: The Exodus of the Mountaineers from Appalachia:
      Nothing would make him shut up until I brought my dogwood stick into his office and witched for water.
    • 2010, C.J. Ott, True Stories: Memories, Musings, Odds and Ends:
      Eventually, Don and Jim built nice big houses on their lots. We enjoyed watching them being built. I remember Don's builder came out and “witched” for a well.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

other terms of interest

References[edit]

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

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.

Scots[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English wicche, from Old English wiċċe (witch (female),sorceress) and wiċċa (witch (male), sorcerer) m., deverbative from wiċċian (to practice sorcery), from Proto-Germanic *wikkōną (compare West Frisian wikje, wikke (to foretell, warn), German Low German wicken (to soothsay), Dutch wikken, wichelen (to dowse, divine)), from Proto-Indo-European *wik-néh₂-, derivation of *weyk- (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 witchs)

  1. witch; A person, chiefly a woman, skilled in sorcery.
    1. warlock
  2. (transferred) Various animals, insects and objects in some way associated with witches.
    1. A moth in general; a tortoiseshell butterfly.
    2. The pole flounder or dab, Glyptocephalus cynoglossus.
    3. The seaweed, Laminaria saccharina.
    4. A red clay marble, generally one that is considered effective in winning games, a “wizard”.

Synonyms[edit]

female magic user
male magic user

Derived terms[edit]

Verb[edit]

witch (third-person singular simple present, present participle witching, simple past witchit, past participle witchit)

  1. (transitive) To harm (a person, etc.) by means of witchcraft; to bewitch, cast a spell on.
  2. (figuratively) To affect or influence as by witchcraft.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

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