du·​en·​de dü-ˈen-(ˌ)dā How to pronounce duende (audio)
: the power to attract through personal magnetism and charm

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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 Bad Bunny isn’t interested in ‘clarifying anything’ to fans Sept. 12, 2023 My own mom and sister, two people who are of sound and rational mind, used to be genuinely concerned that duendes were stealing our laundry. Alex Zaragoza, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2023 In some of its most memorable reporting, former host Maria Celeste Arrarás and the team of reporters shared stories of duendes lurking in trees in Central America, brujas voladoras captured on camera by a shaky camcorder, and UFO or alien sightings. Alex Zaragoza, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2023 May more absolute crackpots come forward with their petrified duendes and brujas voladoras. Alex Zaragoza, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2023 Charisma, class, and style all have something to do with duende. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 3 Sep. 2021 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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'duende.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1964, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of duende was in 1964


Dictionary Entries Near duende

Cite this Entry

“Duende.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duende. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

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