in·​can·​ta·​tion | \ ˌin-ˌkan-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce incantation (audio) \

Definition of incantation

: a use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic also : a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect

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Other Words from incantation

incantational \ ˌin-​ˌkan-​ˈtā-​shnəl How to pronounce incantational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
incantatory \ in-​ˈkan-​tə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce incantatory (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

Incantation comes directly from the Latin word incantare, "enchant". Incantare itself has cantare as a root, which reminds us that magic and ritual have always been associated with chanting and music. Incantations have often been in strange languages; "Abracadabra" is a not-so-serious version of an incantation.

Examples of incantation in a Sentence

trying to produce a miracle by incantation hovering over the sick child, the witch doctor muttered mysterious incantations

Recent Examples on the Web

Some versions of the books are in ancient Yoruban language, others in English and Spanish, with incantations and instructions written throughout. Sarah Betancourt, Longreads, "The Religion No One Talks About: My Search For Answers in an Old Caribbean Faith," 30 Mar. 2018 In its lighter, fluffier incantation, it’s cooked in a 2:1 ratio of liquid to millet. Ashleigh Spitza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Millet, the underdog of grains, packs a punch of nutrients," 11 Apr. 2018 There's not a spell or hex or incantation strong enough to overturn Netflix's decision. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Leaving Netflix in March 2018: 61 Movies and TV Shows You Can Say Goodbye to Next Month," 22 Feb. 2018 Roberts delivers these emotional complexities with a superb performance, balancing quiet pondering with dramatic incantation. Wei-huan Chen, Houston Chronicle, "A truly epic 'Iliad' at Main Street Theater," 10 Jan. 2018 Geillis’s theory on time travel boils down to a complicated, messy mixture of fate, incantations, the need for special jewels, and of course, human sacrifice. Elizabeth Angell, Town & Country, "Outlander Season 3 Finale: Claire and Jamie Head Straight for "The Eye of the Storm"," 11 Dec. 2017 While much of Europe basked on the beach, elaborate rites and unfamiliar incantations could be overheard in the French capital. The Economist, "Charlemagne: Exorcising Marx in FranceEmmanuel Macron is trying to change France’s psychology," 9 Sep. 2017 Like most of the hundreds of children’s books, poems, and songs Brown wrote during her short life, Goodnight Moon is less a story than an incantation. Laura Miller, Slate Magazine, "The wild, jubilant life of Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon.," 12 Jan. 2017 In different times and places, verses were uttered in unchanging words and rhythms, evoking the spell of an incantation or a curse. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Iona Opie, scholarly explorer of the lore and customs of childhood, dies at 94," 4 Nov. 2017

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incantation

Middle English incantacioun, from Middle French incantation, from Late Latin incantation-, incantatio, from Latin incantare to enchant — more at enchant

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Time Traveler for incantation

The first known use of incantation was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of incantation

: a series of words used to make something magic happen

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