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 talismanic (audio) , -​ləz-​ \ adjective
talismanically \ ˌta-​ləs-​ˈma-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce talismanically (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 Spurs' talisman will be looking to improve on his fine goalscoring record in this competition on Wednesday. SI.com, "Spurs Handed Massive Boost Ahead of Red Star Clash With Harry Kane Set For Return," 5 Nov. 2019 It was widely reported that Levy broke the club's strict wage structure to tie talisman Harry Kane to a new long-term contract but the expenditure on the stadium meant Pochettino was hamstrung in the transfer market. Matias Grez, CNN, "Jose Mourinho and Tottenham: A match made in heaven ... or hell?," 20 Nov. 2019 Set in eighteenth-century Jamaica, this now-classic adventure flick features magical talismans, the undead, and an ancient Aztec curse. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, "How to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," 12 Nov. 2019 An unrivalled tally of four Golden Boots came the way of the Arsenal talisman, as did the club's all-time scoring record, with the World Cup winner striking on 175 occasions in the top-flight. SI.com, "90min's Premier League Hall of Fame: Class of 2018," 31 Oct. 2019 Here’s how New England can make the most of its trip to Atlanta: Josef, or no Josef Atlanta has been led by its attacking talisman, league goal-scoring leader Josef Martinez. BostonGlobe.com, "The Boston Globe/Globe Staff," 6 Oct. 2019 The stalemate comes as an even greater surprise, given talisman Messi's incredible home record in the European competition. SI.com, "Lionel Messi Fires Camp Nou Blank for First Time in Seven Years as Barcelona Are Held to Draw," 6 Nov. 2019 In July, one of the field patrols submitted a report about a recent revenge killing, including a photograph of a dead lion with its four paws and tail removed — an old ritual for collecting talismans. Christina Larson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Lions kill cattle, so people kill lions. Can the cycle end?," 7 Oct. 2019 Rogers occasionally uses gold leaf, but the natural elements are her art’s precious talismans. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: At American University Museum, a world of atmosphere," 28 Nov. 2019

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

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The first known use of talisman was in 1638

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Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Talisman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/talisman?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=t&file=talism01. Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for talisman


How to pronounce talisman (audio)

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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