tal·​is·​man ˈta-ləs-mən How to pronounce talisman (audio)
plural talismans
: an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune
: something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects
talismanic adjective
talismanically adverb

Did you know?

The English language may have borrowed talisman from French, Spanish, or Italian; all three include similar-looking words for a lucky charm that derive from an Arabic word for a charm, ṭilsam. Ṭilsam traces to ancient Greek telein, which means "to initiate into the mysteries."

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 The talisman, sewn in crocodile skin, was given to Hafiz to carry on his body at all times, to help drive away the bad jinns. Mohammed Naseehu Ali, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 The Argentine talisman was more than one week late to report to preseason training last month and had been working off to the side, away from the main group of players, with the team’s performance staff for the past week. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, 6 Feb. 2024 There’s a talisman for every taste: Joan Didion’s collection of pebbles and seashells (recently sold at auction for seven thousand dollars); Paul Newman’s pocketknife (eight thousand dollars). Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2024 It was used in social life, for digestive aid, as a protective talisman, to eliminate fatigue and more. Moira Ritter, Miami Herald, 5 Mar. 2024 The game against Egypt on Jan. 18 will pit Ghana's attack against that of Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah. Jorge Garma, USA TODAY, 9 Jan. 2024 India had shown some cracks having lost a Test match to Australia last year, just their third in almost 50 matches, and entered this series weakened without talisman Virat Kohli and several other high-profile players. Tristan Lavalette, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 Miu Miu’s spring/summer 2024 show, the brain child of Miuccia Prada that has bestowed upon us, among other things—boat shoes as high fashion talisman. Kerry Pieri, Vogue, 28 Feb. 2024 Meanwhile, Mahomes’ well-deserved reputation as a deep-ball-slinging, devil-may-care talisman persists. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of talisman was in 1638


Dictionary Entries Near talisman

Cite this Entry

“Talisman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/talisman. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tal·​is·​man ˈtal-ə-smən How to pronounce talisman (audio)
plural talismans
: a ring or stone carved with symbols and believed to have magical powers : charm

More from Merriam-Webster on talisman

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