fetish

noun
fe·​tish | \ˈfe-tish also ˈfē- \
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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Synonyms & Antonyms for fetish

Synonyms

amulet, charm, mascot, mojo, phylactery, talisman

Antonyms

hoodoo, jinx

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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

Uresti always has been a scrappy hustler with a fetish for glamour. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "Uresti was a great story that turned tragic," 20 June 2018 Her fingertips travel to the lone whisker and then caress it like a fetish. Lisa Miller, The Cut, "The Weaponized Amber Tamblyn," 8 July 2018 The person who first put A/C vents at the bottom of seats in the car either never wore open-toe shoes or has a blue foot fetish. Meredith Bodgas And Alexis Hobbs, Woman's Day, "14 Things Only People Who Are Always Cold Know to Be True," 24 June 2015 People have opened up about love affairs, fetishes, guilty pleasures and crimes large and small. Karla Peterson, sandiegouniontribune.com, "PostSecret exhibit turns Museum of Man into a confession booth," 9 July 2018 Big tech has made a fetish of efficiency, of data, of the wisdom of the market. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018 The museum has put together a retrospective dedicated to the Southern California finish/fetish artist who has explored color, form and minimalism in a career that has spanned more than six decades. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Baskets inspired by math, iconic Los Angeles images and photos of people getting expressive," 24 May 2018 The New Negro was a hero, a fetish, a polemical posture—and a blurry portrait of a flinching soul. Tobi Haslett, The New Yorker, "The Man Who Led the Harlem Renaissance—and His Hidden Hungers," 11 May 2018 Athey’s work explores Christian myth, sexuality, fetish and pain — visceral, S&M tinged work that once drew the ire of conservative politicians. Carolina A. Miranda, latimes.com, "Datebook: Police violence paintings, a gallery's 25th and enduring images of a photojournalist's life," 21 June 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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Learn More about fetish

Dictionary Entries near fetish

fetid yew

fetii

fetiparous

fetish

fetishism

fetishize

fetlock

Statistics for fetish

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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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