cha·​ris·​ma kə-ˈriz-mə How to pronounce charisma (audio)
: 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.
: 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 comes from the verb charizesthai ("to favor"), which in turn comes from the noun charis, meaning "grace." In English, charisma was originally used in Christian contexts 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. These days, we use the word to refer to social, rather than divine, grace. For instance, a leader with charisma may easily gain popular support, and a job applicant with charisma may shine in an interview.

Example Sentences

The candidate was lacking in charisma. His success is largely due to his charisma.
Recent Examples on the Web For Beattie, Lake is the proof that political charisma is more important than the right policy agenda. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 28 Oct. 2022 Following him on the football field as the younger brother is an even more daunting task for Keaton Stam, a junior, who doesn't have the same outgoing personality as Jax, whose charisma was off the charts and his ability to lead second to none. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 9 Sep. 2022 Still, the show foments a strange tension between the Rocky of the past and the Rock of the present, juxtaposing the charisma of an elegiac father figure with that of the superstar the son will become. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 29 Oct. 2022 Al-Zawahiri did not have the charisma of bin Laden, counterterrorism experts say, but was the brains behind Al Qaeda. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 2 Aug. 2022 There is a threadline that unites the proto-salsa of Cortijo with the tropical bonhomie of El Gran Combo, the gentlemanly charisma of Gilberto Santa Rosa and the exuberant flow of Tego Calderón with Ozuna’s musical identity. Ernesto Lechner, Rolling Stone, 6 Oct. 2022 Investors focused on the charisma of Elon Musk and subsequently Tesla TSLA -8.6% stock rose exponentially, but electric vehicle demand moved at a much slower pace. Steve Tengler, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2022 Lacking the charisma of his predecessor, al-Zawahri’s image as a leader was not helped by a tendency to embark on long, meandering and often outdated speeches. Andrew Mines, The Conversation, 2 Aug. 2022 If Zawahiri lacked the charisma and mobilizing power of bin Laden, killed in a daring US Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan in 2011, his influence and organization of al Qaeda resulted in huge damage to the US. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1930, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of charisma was in 1930


Dictionary Entries Near charisma

Cite this Entry

“Charisma.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



cha·​ris·​ma kə-ˈriz-mə How to pronounce charisma (audio)
: a special charm or public appeal

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