tal·​is·​man | \ˈta-ləs-mən, -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, -​ləz-​ \ adjective
talismanically \ˌta-​ləs-​ˈma-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē, -​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

Other collections pull from those Art Nouveau letters that dance across shop signs in Budapest, and Greco evil eyes—ancient negative-vibe warding talismans. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Farm-Fresh Flowers and Lobster Rolls Aplenty: Marlo Laz’s Jeweler Gives Her Guide to Nantucket," 7 Sep. 2018 His desk is covered with talismans: a bowl of smooth stones, another of hotel keys, a careful line of wooden and stuffed toy animals he was sent for various birthdays. Paula Mclain, Town & Country, "The Extraordinary Life of Martha Gellhorn, the Woman Ernest Hemingway Tried to Erase," 12 July 2018 It looks set to be a busy transfer window for the club, with talisman Antoine Griezmann believed to be close to agreeing terms with a move to Barcelona. SI.com, "PHOTO: Atlético Madrid Unveil Stunning New Kit as Club Begin Preparations for 2018/18 Season," 24 May 2018 Her outsized pieces inspired by tribal talismans are handmade in her Nairobi studio space and by-appointment boutique (pictured). Mosha Lundström Halbert, Vogue, "The Kenyan Cool Girl’s Guide to Nairobi," 2 July 2018 Texas Tech prefers a talisman-free ritual with a subtle nod to its 2016 College World Series team. Pat Borzi, New York Times, "A College World Series Filled With Hog Hats, Hammers and Championship Belts," 23 June 2018 There is no denying who the Juventus talisman has been for the past few years: Gianluigi Buffon. SI.com, "Cristiano Ronaldo Is What Juventus Needs to Finally Win Champions League," 4 July 2018 Rozier has even turned former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe into a Celtics talisman! Jason Gay, WSJ, "Great, Fantastic, Another Boston Sports Team Is Doing Well," 10 May 2018 Real Madrid players were under no illusion that their star talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was to jump ship and move to Juventus, according to Marca. SI.com, "Report Reveals Real Madrid Stars Shocked By Sudden Departure of Cristiano Ronaldo," 11 July 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

8 Dec 2018

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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 \
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

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