cha·​ris·​ma | \ kə-ˈriz-mə How to pronounce charisma (audio) \

Definition of charisma

1 : a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (such as a political leader) His success was largely due to his charisma.
2 : a special magnetic charm or appeal the charisma of a popular actor

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The Greek word charisma means "favor" or "gift." It is derived from the verb charizesthai ("to favor"), which in turn comes from the noun charis, meaning "grace." In English, charisma has been used in Christian contexts since the mid-1500s to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church, a sense that is now very rare. The earliest nonreligious use of charisma that we know of occurred in a German text, a 1922 publication by sociologist Max Weber. The sense began appearing in English contexts shortly after Weber's work was published.

Examples of charisma in a Sentence

The candidate was lacking in charisma. His success is largely due to his charisma.
Recent Examples on the Web Parties across the political spectrum have begged her to run for office — seeing in her a rare blend of pragmatism, charisma and smarts. New York Times, 7 Jan. 2022 No one can match Pearl’s charisma and energy, and students will be camping out again for tickets to the show once the winter semester begins. Joseph Goodman |, al, 30 Dec. 2021 The animal weighs up to 18 pounds and can measure up to six feet in length of blue-green bioluminescent charisma. Danielle Hall And Alia N. Payne, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Dec. 2021 Paul is attracted to the older boy’s arrogance and charisma and self-confidence—his cool. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 16 Dec. 2021 Modi’s reversal — and his tone of contrition — came as a surprise for many observers accustomed to a dominant 71-year-old leader whose brand is built upon his personal toughness, charisma and strident nationalism. Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2021 Meanwhile, our second portion tells the tale from the point-of-view of Adam Driver’s Jacques Le Gris, a man who begins the story in equal stature to Damon but soon rises above him for little reason beyond charisma and personal preference. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021 Part of Underwood’s lack of charisma on the series can, perhaps, be chalked up to the oddity of going through these rites of confession on camera; part may be due to his discomfort, still, with the subject matter. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 29 Nov. 2021 My abuelo, Joaquín, a tall, angular man whose charisma and elegance had been lost to a series of strokes, was ailing. Marcel Agüeros, Wired, 18 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'charisma.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of charisma

1930, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for charisma

Greek, favor, gift, from charizesthai to favor, from charis grace; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice — more at yearn

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The first known use of charisma was in 1930

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Charisma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on charisma

Nglish: Translation of charisma for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of charisma for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about charisma


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