AskDefine | Define incantation

Dictionary Definition

incantation n : a ritual recitation of words or sounds believed to have a magical effect [syn: conjuration]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. The act or process of using formulas or potions and/or usually rhyming words, sung or spoken, with occult ceremonies, for the purpose of raising spirits, producing enchantment, or creating other magical results.
  2. A formula of words used as above.


A process of occult ceremony
a formula of magic words

Extensive Definition

An incantation is the words spoken during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer invoking or praising a deity, or in magic, occultism, witchcraft with the intention of casting a spell or an object or a person. The term derives from Latin incantare (tr.), meaning "to chant (a magical spell) upon," from in- "into, upon" and cantare "to sing".
In medieval literature, folklore, fairy tales and modern fantasy fiction, enchantments (from the Old French enchantement) are charms or spells. The term was loaned into English since around AD 1300. The corresponding native English term being galdor "song, spell". It has led to the terms enchanter and enchantress, for those who use enchantments.
The weakened sense "delight" (compare the same development of charm) is modern, first attested in 1593 (OED).

Some collections of charms

In folklore and fiction

In traditional fairy tales or fantasy fiction, an enchantment is a magical spell that is attached, on a relatively-permanent basis, to a specific person, object or location, and alters its qualities, generally in a positive way. The most widely-known example is probably the spell that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother uses to turn a pumpkin into a coach. An enchantment with negative characteristics is usually instead referred to as a curse.
Conversely, enchantments are also used to describe spells that cause no real effects but deceive people, either by directly affecting their thoughts or using some kind of illusions. Enchantresses are frequently depicted as able to seduce by such magic. Other forms include deceiving people into believing that they have suffered a magical transformation.
Examples are "Abracadabra" as might be said by a magician during a trick, or the Stunning Spell in the Harry Potter books.

Effects of Incantations (Enchanted)

incantation in Italian: Incantesimo (magia)
incantation in Dutch: Incantatie
incantation in Polish: Zaklęcie (magia)
incantation in Chinese: 咒语

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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