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 reverenceb : an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion : prepossessionc : 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 : a rite or cult of fetish worshippers
3 : fixation
Examples of fetish in a Sentence
He has a fetish for secrecy.
He wore a fetish to ward off evil spirits.
Recent Examples of fetish from the Web
The accompanying photographs of Shaun Tan’s baleful sculptures (see right) show objects with the power of tribal fetishes that at the same time exude ambiguity.
Under the guidance of the showrunner, Stefano Sollima, the show makes a fetish of low light and shadow.
The couple’s work belonged to a fetish genre built around fantasies of cuckolded husbands powerless to stop their wives’ lust.
At times, Boczek’s interest in Nazi paraphernalia seemed to border on a fetish.
There’s something unsettling about the fetish of silence that certain moviegoers insist on.
Books and magazines were organized just the way librarians do it, by subject — fetish, S and M, black and white, that kind of thing.
Somewhere between the stigma and the fetish that continue to haunt issues of mental illness lies compassionate, practical (scientific) help that will keep our beloved creative geniuses, as well as ordinary people, from hurting themselves.
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.
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).
Origin and Etymology of fetish
French & Portuguese; French fétiche, from Portuguese feitiço, from feitiço artificial, false, from Latin facticius factitious
First Known Use: 1613
FETISH Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of fetish for English Language Learners
: 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
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
Seen and Heard
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