witch doctor

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Witch doctors from Lassa, Borno State, Nigeria.


witch doctor (plural witch doctors)

  1. A person who is believed to ward off witchcraft and heal through magical powers; a shaman.
    • 1718, Francis Hutchinson, An Historical Essay Concerning Wichcraft:
      [] but the said Dorothy Durent, having been with a Witch-Doctor, acknowledges upon Oath, that by his Advice, she hang'd up her Child's Blanket in the Chimney, found a toad in it at Night, had put it into the Fire, and held it there tho' it made a great and horrible Noise []
    • 1820, John C. Knowlson, The complete cow-leech, or cattle doctor, volume 8, page 104:
      Some people are so foolish as to go to a witch-doctor when they have Cows in this complaint: — they give him some money, and he tells them some frivolous tale, such as that some person that wishes them bad luck, or looks upon them with an evil eye []
    • 1893, South African Law Journal, volume 10, page 219:
      At that consultation, according to the habit of a witch-doctor, he divined and announced the occasion of their attendance, and indicated the complainant, Mdungazwe, as the wizard who had caused Ranise to suffer.
    • 1958, David Seville, "Witch Doctor"
      I told the witch doctor I was in love with you / And then the witch doctor he told me what to do
    • 1971, Jilek W.G., “From Crazy Witch Doctor to Auxiliary Psychotherapist – The Changing Image of the Medicine Man”, in Psychopathology, volume 4, number 4, page 200:
      Review of the literature cited in the bibliography of the present paper left this author with the impression that there is indeed a very widespread institution variously labelled by Western observers with epithets such as medicine-man, shaman, witch-doctor, native healer, or with indigenous terms such as angakok (Eskimo), or mganga (Swahili).
    • 1991, Sudhir Kakar, Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry Into India and Its Healing Traditions:
      In much of popular Western literature, the non-Western professional who attends to the relief of distress and alleviation of anxiety in his society is known by many names, none of them exactly respectful. He is a medicine man or a witch doctor, native healer or voodoo sorcerer — the "quack," so to speak, never the "doctor."
    • 1993, Hama Tuma, The Case of the Socialist Witchdoctor and Other Stories, page 36:
      The man being led into the Cage did not strike me as a witchdoctor. Slim and tall, he was a middle-aged man with a fuzzy Afro which made him look even younger.

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