tal·​is·​man | \ ˈta-ləs-mən How to pronounce talisman (audio) , -ləz-\
plural talismans

Definition of talisman

1 : an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune
2 : something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects

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Other Words from talisman

talismanic \ ˌta-​ləs-​ˈma-​nik How to pronounce talismanic (audio) , -​ləz-​ \ adjective
talismanically \ ˌta-​ləs-​ˈma-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce talismanically (audio) , -​ləz-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for talisman


amulet, charm, fetish (also fetich), mascot, mojo, periapt, phylactery


hoodoo, jinx

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Did You Know?

Do you believe in lucky charms? Language reflects the fact that many people do. We might have borrowed talisman from French, Spanish, or Italian; all three include similar-looking words for a lucky charm. Those three terms derive from a single Arabic word for a charm, tilsam. Tilsam in turn can be traced to the ancient Greek verb telein, which means "to initiate into the mysteries." While the word talisman, in its strictest use, refers to an object, even a human being can be considered a talisman—such as a player on a team whose mere presence somehow causes magical things to happen.

Examples of talisman in a Sentence

a pendant of white nephrite jade is often worn by Indians as a talisman to ward off heart disease

Recent Examples on the Web

Born and bred in Madrid, Real signed Spanish talisman Álvaro Morata from Juventus for €30m. SI.com, "The 50 Most Expensive Real Madrid Signings Ever," 27 June 2019 The largest is Germany, and the motive to date has been a steely political determination by Chancellor Angela Merkel to preserve the common currency as a talisman of European unity. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Italy Issues a Euro Dare to Germany," 11 Oct. 2018 The talisman linked up well with Sergio Agüero on occasion but was always stifled by a resilant Colombia defence. SI.com, "Copa América Recap: Colombia Sink Argentina as VAR Denies Peru in Draw With Venezuela," 16 June 2019 Indiana’s guard rotation looks set for a revamp, after losing its talisman scorer in each of the past two seasons. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Armaan Franklin heads for IU stronger, more aggressive and eager to earn playing time," 13 June 2019 Lore leaves Vienna on the first train out, clutching a sausage snack from her mother like a magic talisman. Madeleine Schwartz, Harper's magazine, "Warm, Weird, Effervescent," 10 June 2019 Like erotic playing cards or private talismans, the works all but ask to be possessed, shared, and circulated. Christopher Alessandrini, The New York Review of Books, "‘Boys Do It Better’: The Paintings of Louis Fratino," 18 May 2019 Each lipstick comes in a gold, refillable case that feels like a bar of gold and looks like a fancy weapon or perhaps a talisman of some sort. Sable Yong, Allure, "Bond No. 9's Neutrals Collection Are the Fanciest Nude Lipsticks I’ve Ever Used," 8 May 2019 James Rodriguez is Colombia's talisman and almost carries his country at times. SI.com, "7 of the Coolest Stars to Keep An Eye On During the World Cup," 20 June 2018

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

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for talisman

French talisman or Spanish talismán or Italian talismano; all from Arabic ṭilsam, from Middle Greek telesma, from Greek, consecration, from telein to initiate into the mysteries, complete, from telos end — more at telos

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Statistics for talisman

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for talisman

The first known use of talisman was in 1638

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More Definitions for talisman



English Language Learners Definition of talisman

: an object (such as a ring or stone) that is believed to have magic powers and to cause good things to happen to the person who has it


tal·​is·​man | \ ˈta-lə-smən How to pronounce talisman (audio) \
plural talismans

Kids Definition of talisman

: a ring or stone carved with symbols and believed to have magical powers : charm

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More from Merriam-Webster on talisman

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for talisman

Spanish Central: Translation of talisman

Nglish: Translation of talisman for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of talisman for Arabic Speakers

Comments on talisman

What made you want to look up talisman? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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