fetish

noun
fe·​tish | \ ˈfe-tish also ˈfē- How to pronounce fetish (audio) \
variants: or less commonly fetich

Definition of fetish

1a : an object (such as a small stone carving of an animal) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner broadly : a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence
b : an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion : prepossession
c : an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression
2 : fixation
3 : a rite or cult of fetish worshippers

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A Brief History of Fetish

When fetish first appeared in English in the early 17th century, it referred to objects (often amulets) believed by certain West Africans to have supernatural powers. During the 19th century, the word took on a broader meaning: "an object of irrational devotion or reverence." The object need not be physical: a person may have a fetish for an idea, such as an unwarranted belief that a particular economic system will solve society’s ills. By the early 20th century, fetish took on yet another meaning quite distinct from its antecedents: a sexualized desire for an object (such as a shoe) or for a body part that is not directly related to the reproductive act (such as an earlobe).

Examples of fetish in a Sentence

He has a fetish for secrecy. He wore a fetish to ward off evil spirits.

Recent Examples on the Web

What’s with the New York Times and its Ken Griffin fetish? Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "How a Billionaire Spends His Money Is His Own Business," 29 Jan. 2019 And our flying-car fetish has been a bogus panacea all along—every crash would be an air disaster. Smith Henderson, Popular Mechanics, "I Went to the Opening of Elon Musk's First Boring Company Tunnel and Here Is What I Found," 19 Dec. 2018 Present-day Tumblr has substantial LGBT, kink, fetish, and BDSM representation, for example. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Verizon takes aim at Tumblr’s kneecaps, bans all adult content," 3 Dec. 2018 Soranet catered to a broad spectrum of orientations, yearnings, and fetishes. Shawn Musgrave, The Verge, "How ICE used an obscure rule to pursue the owners of a Korean porn site," 27 Sep. 2018 Probably stemming from deep psychological roots, people filed under this fetish are attracted to sobbing and tears. Kenny Thapoung, Marie Claire, "9 Fascinating Sex Fetishes Every Woman Should Be Aware Of," 6 Oct. 2015 The descriptive text is quite graphic, mentioning fetish acts and featuring rambling stories that paint women as promiscuous. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Walmart Was Once Again Forced to Pull an Offensive Shirt From Its Website," 12 July 2018 The American fetish for barbarism has seeped into the national film culture with a quiet insidiousness, creating a governing body that writes off mass destruction as no biggie while going for the fainting couch at the sight of a second nipple. Charles Bramesco, Vox, "Eighth Grade’s R rating deters actual 8th graders from seeing it. What a shame.," 18 July 2018 The previous stuff was really industrial and more fetish based, a bit more electronic. Elyssa Goodman, Billboard, "Violet Chachki Talks Fantastical, Burlesque-Inspired Music Film: 'I Wanted to Glamorize Reality'," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fetish.' 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 fetish

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for fetish

French & Portuguese; French fétiche, from Portuguese feitiço, from feitiço artificial, false, from Latin facticius factitious

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Dictionary Entries near fetish

fetid yew

fetii

fetiparous

fetish

fetishism

fetishize

fetlock

Statistics for fetish

Last Updated

12 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fetish

The first known use of fetish was in 1613

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More Definitions for fetish

fetish

noun

English Language Learners Definition of fetish

: a strong and unusual need or desire for something
: a need or desire for an object, body part, or activity for sexual excitement
: an object that is believed to have magical powers

fetish

noun
fe·​tish
variants: also fetich \ ˈfet-​ish also ˈfēt-​ \

Medical Definition of fetish

: an object or bodily part whose real or fantasized presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression

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More from Merriam-Webster on fetish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fetish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fetish

Spanish Central: Translation of fetish

Nglish: Translation of fetish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fetish

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