\ ˈwich How to pronounce witch (audio) \
plural witches

Definition of witch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 in fiction and folk traditions
a : a person (especially a woman) who is credited with having usually malignant supernatural powers The modern visual image of the "folklore" witch, made popular by the film representation of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939), is an old hag with a hooked nose and a mole, wearing a pointed hat and flowing robes, and flying on a broomstick.— Donald Haase Once upon a time the horror story was content to deal with things that go shriek in the night, with mad scientists, leering zombies, monsters, ghosts, witches, vampires and damsels in distress.— Eliot Fremont-Smith Fairy tale witches (not to be confused with our chic Wicca sisters) are rude, with a tendency to cackle at the misfortunes of others.The New York Times Book Review … many Russian fairy tales tell of Baba Yaga, an old witch who flies around in a pestle and mortar and lives in a house that walks around on chicken legs.— Molly Barker
b : a woman who is believed to practice usually black (see black entry 1 sense 7) magic often with the aid of a devil or familiar : sorceress

Note: This meaning of witch is commonly encountered in contexts relating to historical Christian religious beliefs about witches and witchcraft.

Belief in the Devil was very strong in the medieval Church and witchcraft was regarded as heresy. Suspected witches were subjected to the Inquisition.— Eileen Rennison My interest centers on the religious reasons for the persecution of women as witches in early America.— Elizabeth Reis But a common charge against [17th-century] English witches, though much less often raised against their Continental counterparts, was that they kept 'familiars'—imps or demons in the form usually of small animals such as dogs, cats and toads …— Geoffrey Scarre — compare warlock
2 or less commonly Witch : a practitioner of witchcraft (see witchcraft sense 3) especially in adherence with a neo-pagan tradition or religion (such as Wicca) While modern witches do believe in the ability to harness the forces of nature, Wicca has nothing to do with Satan, or evil spells.— Larry Potash Being a witch … in the world today can entail anything from being a practitioner of Wicca, a religion founded in the 20th century, to practicing any number of neo-pagan traditions. Not all self-identified witches are Wiccan, and not all Pagans would describe themselves as witches.— Antonia Blumberg It has nothing to do with satanism, warts or hexes. I know, because I am a Wiccan priestess—a real Witch, not the fairy-tale stereotype.— Sue McCaskill It [The World of Witches Museum] is in fact a celebration of Witches, Wiccans and Pagans.PRWeb.com
3 : a mean or ugly old woman : hag, crone "You old witch," she sputtered. "You always hated me, you did …"— Katherine Stanley She has a wrinkled-up and wizened personage—she must have been eighty—and as she mumbled the grim story through her toothless gums, she seemed a very old witch to them.— Upton Sinclair
4 : a charming or alluring girl or woman [Sharon] Stone makes a captivating California witch who ranges exquisitely from tragic temptress to (possibly) manipulative murderess.— Mark Goodman


witched; witching; witches

Definition of witch (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to affect injuriously with witchcraft
2 archaic : to influence or beguile with allure or charm

Other Words from witch


witchlike \ ˈwich-​ˌlīk How to pronounce witch (audio) \ adjective
witchy \ ˈwi-​chē How to pronounce witch (audio) \ adjective

Examples of witch in a Sentence

Noun an herbalist and self-proclaimed witch Her mother-in-law is a bitter old witch. Verb the woman did witch me with her gentle smile
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her father, Leonard Boudin, was a civil-liberties lawyer whose client roster included entertainer Paul Robeson, among other figures called before the House Un-American Activities Committee during anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s. Washington Post, 2 May 2022 It’s Stevie Nicks witch vibes but with more breathable, warm-weather-friendly textiles. Vogue, 4 May 2022 For instance, the witches become Lady Macduff, her child, the doctor, and in one instance, Phillip James Brannon goes directly from playing a witch to Ross. Christian Lewis, Variety, 29 Apr. 2022 The local theater group Escapism Productions is letting modern folks witness the drama of life in the 1600s, everything from homesteading to witch-hunting to murder. Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant, 28 Apr. 2022 The witch hurls down balls of fire as the other sorcerers try to contain her. Chris Smith, BGR, 22 Apr. 2022 Shipka recently reprised another one of her beloved roles, playing Archie Comics teen witch Sabrina Spellman for an appearance on season 6 of Riverdale. Glenn Garner, PEOPLE.com, 16 Apr. 2022 An engraving depicts citizens arresting a witch in New England. NBC News, 11 Apr. 2022 Based on the second book in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, young Tip escapes an evil witch, then sets out on any adventure to the Emerald City. cleveland, 5 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Indeed, this 2016 intimate-scale opera is set during the McCarthy era witch hunts when gays in government were being hunted down. Bill Hirschman, Sun Sentinel, 25 Apr. 2022 This breakdown can also lead to witch hunts in which legitimate players are accused of cheating because players don't trust that the system is fair. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 24 Mar. 2022 The Delta Dental Pro-Am gives fans the opportunity to see pros up close playing the course, witch each pro matched up with four amateur golfers in a relaxed, intimate atmosphere. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, 14 Mar. 2022 There's little, if any, historical evidence directly linking real brewsters to witch trials. Tara Nurin, Forbes, 31 Oct. 2021 In creating a mist, APTO's Turmeric Mist was formulated using natural raw ingredients such as turmeric and witch Hazel in order to create a multi-purpose mist that's anti-inflammatory, reduces redness, prevents dryness, and refreshes skin. Joseph Deacetis, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 For the next three centuries, witch hunts and executions -- including the Salem trials of 1692 -- would sweep both the Old and New Worlds. CNN, 31 Oct. 2021 Mackay saw crowd dynamics as central to phenomena as disparate as the South Sea Bubble, the Crusades, witch hunts, and alchemy. Zoë Heller, The New Yorker, 5 July 2021 But, ultimately, both witch and daemon prepared for this moment beforehand. Nick Romano, EW.com, 15 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'witch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of witch


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for witch


Middle English wicche, from Old English wicca, masculine, wizard & wicce, feminine, witch; akin to Middle High German wicken to bewitch, Old English wigle divination, and perhaps to Old High German wīh holy — more at victim

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The first known use of witch was before the 12th century

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witch's brew

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Witch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witch. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for witch


\ ˈwich How to pronounce witch (audio) \

Kids Definition of witch

1 : a person and especially a woman believed to have magic powers
2 : an ugly or mean old woman

More from Merriam-Webster on witch

Nglish: Translation of witch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of witch for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about witch


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