noun tal·is·man \ ˈta-ləs-mən , -ləz- \
|Updated on: 4 Aug 2018

Definition of talisman

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


play \ˌta-ləs-ˈma-nik, -ləz-\ adjective


play \ˌta-ləs-ˈma-ni-k(ə-)lē, -ləz-\ adverb

talisman was our Word of the Day on 11/16/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of talisman in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of talisman from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

talisman Synonyms


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


hoodoo, jinx;

Near Antonyms

curse, hex, spell;

Related Words

gris-gris (also grigri), philter, toadstone;

emblem, symbol, token, totem;

TALISMAN Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of talisman for English Language Learners

  • : 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

TALISMAN Defined for Kids


noun tal·is·man \ ˈta-lə-smən \

Definition of talisman for Students

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

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a lighting electrician on a movie set

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