talisman was our Word of the Day on 11/16/2015. Hear the podcast!
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
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
First Known Use: 1638
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
Seen and Heard
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