fetish

noun
fe·​tish | \ ˈfe-tish How to pronounce fetish (audio) 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

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 Visiting a country buffeted by the Jacksonian insurgency from one that still remembered the Jacobins, Tocqueville decided instead that popular sovereignty was a fetish of populists and radicals. Jedediah Britton-purdy, The New Republic, 22 Apr. 2022 Federal prosecutors said Buck's unrelenting fervor to satisfy a fetish by preying on vulnerable men, often young and Black, is reason enough to keep him behind bars for the rest of his life. CBS News, 14 Apr. 2022 That fits nicely with the show’s fetish for an earlier age of recording and viewing technology. New York Times, 4 Mar. 2022 If this is reality for them, their curing physician has a huge Ancient Egypt fetish that’s gotten out of hand. Chris Smith, BGR, 20 Apr. 2022 Not a performance review or a trip to the dentist (unless that’s your fetish). Anna Pulley, chicagotribune.com, 15 Mar. 2022 The outdoor industry, with its fetish for new materials and focus on complex innovation, is a guilty party in all of this. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, 9 Dec. 2021 One friend in particular, who knows about my fetish, is really sick of me asking. Anna Pulley, chicagotribune.com, 23 Feb. 2022 Native girls with clients willing to pay for that fetish. Peter Debruge, Variety, 31 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About fetish

Dictionary Entries Near fetish

fetiparous

fetish

fetishism

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for fetish

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fetish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fetish. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fetish

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

More from Merriam-Webster on fetish

Nglish: Translation of fetish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fetish

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