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

Synonyms & Antonyms for talisman



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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 The team's young talisman Luka Doncic, 21, led the way with 24 points, eight assists and nine rebounds. Calum Trenaman, CNN, "Dallas Mavericks blow out LA Clippers by 51 points," 28 Dec. 2020 The wait staff does have a gathering spot that seems to ward off bad energy, complete with a talisman known lovingly as Sally. Nick Rallo, Dallas News, "Meet the spooky spirits at some of Dallas' haunted bars and restaurants," 14 Oct. 2020 Rock now often works as an aesthetic talisman, opening portals to sensibilities and values that are out of fashion. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Miley Cyrus Has Always Been Rock-and-Roll," 3 Dec. 2020 The Ravens responded behind their talisman Lamar Jackson, who showed flashes of his Most Valuable Player form by eluding tacklers for big gains and hitting Marquise Brown for a beautiful 20-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Baltimore Sun Staff, baltimoresun.com, "Instant analysis: Behind return of Lamar Jackson, Ravens beat Cowboys, 34-17, to halt three-game skid," 8 Dec. 2020 The photo serves as a talisman for the idea of fairy tales, love, and duty. Alegría Adedeji, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Princess Diana Meant So Much to My Black British Mother," 24 Nov. 2020 Perhaps the cure could come with the token that might preserve its own memory, like a talisman. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "How to Remember," 24 Nov. 2020 Dani decides bedtime is a time to discuss the talisman with Flora. Shannon Carlin, refinery29.com, "The Haunting of Bly Manor," 13 Oct. 2020 Dani decides bedtime is a time to discuss the talisman with Flora. Shannon Carlin, refinery29.com, "The Haunting of Bly Manor," 13 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for talisman

Time Traveler

The first known use of talisman was in 1638

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Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Talisman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/talisman. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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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