sympathetic magic


: magic based on the assumption that a person or thing can be supernaturally affected through its name or an object representing it

Examples of sympathetic magic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Driven by a belief in sympathetic magic, some physicians would treat a tumor by placing a live crab on top of it. George Johnson, Discover Magazine, 30 July 2013 Until this point, sympathetic magic had been a term psychologists used to account for magical belief systems in traditional cultures, such as hunter-gatherer societies. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2021 There is a kind of sympathetic magic at work—because Biden transcends the darkness of grief, America can, through him, transcend the darkness of the history that has produced Trump. Fintan O’Toole, The New York Review of Books, 26 Aug. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sympathetic magic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1905, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sympathetic magic was in 1905

Dictionary Entries Near sympathetic magic

Cite this Entry

“Sympathetic magic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

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