du·​en·​de | \ dü-ˈen-(ˌ)dā How to pronounce duende (audio) \

Definition of duende

: the power to attract through personal magnetism and charm

Did you know?

The word duende refers to a spirit in Spanish, Portuguese, and Filipino folklore and literally means "ghost" or "goblin" in Spanish. It is believed to derive from the phrase dueño de casa, which means "owner of a house." The term is traditionally used in flamenco music or other art forms to refer to the mystical or powerful force given off by a performer to draw in the audience. The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca wrote in his essay "Teoria y Juego del Duende" ("Play and Theory of the Duende") that duende "is a power and not a behavior … a struggle and not a concept." Nowadays the term appears in a broader range of contexts to refer to one's unspoken charm or allure.

Examples of duende in a Sentence

even as a child, she had an unmistakable duende that attracted the attention of passersby
Recent Examples on the Web The writer George Frazier spent a lifetime defining duende and identifying those who possessed it. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 3 Sep. 2021 Which means that, for a dancer, duende is not only a mystical inspiration. Jennifer Homans, The New Yorker, 30 Dec. 2019 Krug is no Orr, because no one can recreate that time, that talent that duende, but the winning rush was of near-No. BostonGlobe.com, 23 Nov. 2019 Ronald Reagan brought his California movie-star wattage and conservative duende, and, like that, after a four-year interlude from the Nixonian nadir, the Republican party was seemingly resurrected and would run the table for the next 12 years. Michael Paterniti, GQ, 26 June 2018 To George Frazier, the Globe columnist known for his panache, Davidson was a man who embodied the term duende, an Andalusian Spanish term synonymous with class. Janelle Nanos, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Apr. 2018 In nearby Acayucan, she’s dealt with duendes taunting her baby. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, 29 Mar. 2018 Amigo has more than lived up to his promise, with pyrotechnic virtuosity, charisma, and that intangible quality of soulful emotion the Spanish call duende. Jim Harrington, The Mercury News, 15 June 2017 What draws us to Ichiro is what rakish former Esquire columnist George Frazier, inspired by Federico García Lorca, fancied as an athlete's duende: a synergistic combination of charisma, aptitude, and panache. Alex Belth, Esquire, 2 Apr. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of duende

1964, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for duende

Spanish dialect, charm, from Spanish, ghost, goblin, probably from duen de casa, from dueño de casa owner of a house

Learn More About duende

Listen to Our Podcast About duende

Dictionary Entries Near duende




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for duende

Cite this Entry

“Duende.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duende. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!