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, 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

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 Don’t even think about suggesting Messi lacks love for his homeland or pride in being the captain and talisman for its national soccer team. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Why Lionel Messi hates playing for Argentina in World Cup," 24 June 2018 The buzz: The major question hanging over this match is the health of Egyptian talisman Mohamed Salah, who sustained a shoulder injury in last month’s Champions League final. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "World Cup: Egypt-Uruguay, Morocco-Iran, Portugal-Spain matches ready to kick off Friday," 13 June 2018 The news surrounding the two clubs has largely centred on the potential transfer of West Ham talisman Marko Arnautovic, but reports indicate that current talks concern different members of the Red Devils' playing staff. SI.com, "Inside Report Reveals That West Ham Are Looking to Bring in Manchester United Players This Summer," 10 June 2018 Its problem in Russia hasn’t been so much on the field as off it where Neymar, the team’s captain and talisman, has been an emotional wreck. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "Brazil escapes World Cup elimination with 2-0 victory over Serbia," 28 June 2018 Fans can examine Selznick’s covers for such Potter talismans as Hermione’s time-turner; Harry’s owl, Hedwig; the white doe Patronus; and, Nagini, Voldemort’s snake. USA TODAY, "On the 20th U.S. anniversary of Harry Potter, 20 fun facts about the beloved boy wizard," 25 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

13 Oct 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

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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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