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plural witches
in fiction and folk traditions
: 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
: 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
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
: 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
: 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
witchlike adjective
witchy adjective


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witched; witching; witches

transitive verb

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

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
In doing so, Ms. Parker, whose character also dabbled in vampirism, and Mr. Frid helped expand the two-dimensional portrayals of vampires and witches seen in old Hollywood B-movies. Alex Williams, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2023 The brutal murder of a supposed witch, Andrés Netor, triggers a unique legal process. Anna Marie De La Fuente, Variety, 7 Nov. 2023 Halloween is now in the rearview, but for some of us, this is still the season of the witch. Liz Braswell, WSJ, 3 Nov. 2023 Other countries have attempted to atone for a history of persecuting people as witches. CBS News, 31 Oct. 2023 The adult list is similar, with witch, vampire and Barbie taking the top spots, followed by Batman, cat and zombie. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 31 Oct. 2023 Michael Cardenas has been a professional witch for 15 years. Alex Zaragoza, Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2023 From 2007 through 2011, Carter was the villainous witch Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter film series. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 26 Oct. 2023 As a Black and Latina witch, being confronted with skeptics can initially be challenging, especially when faced with doubts about my beliefs and practices. Suzy Exposito, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2023
For those witching to have some fun this fall, Greenfield Village’s Halloween tradition just might be a spooktacular fit, and tickets are about to go on sale. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 21 Aug. 2023 Knowing this, Hocus Pocus 3 could follow this new generation of Salem witches as Becca hones her powers. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 5 June 2023 Some contend that the anonymity of the post-publication reviewers breeds witch hunts and harms innocent bystanders. Adam Marcus, Discover Magazine, 25 Nov. 2014 We're bewitched by Cardi B and her daughter, Kulture, who twinned with their broomsticks and witch hats on Halloween in 2021. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 27 Sep. 2022 These easy Halloween crafts for kids are both fun and completely age-appropriate, perfect for the princess, superhero, or witch in your family. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Sep. 2022 This witch ensemble lights up across the dress, creating a stunning costume. Blaine Callahan, Hartford Courant, 5 Oct. 2022 In only two weeks, the haunting selection of jewelry garnered a 10,000-person waitlist, so scoop up a pair of pumpkin, bat, ghost, or witch earrings before they're gone again. Claire Harmeyer, Peoplemag, 3 Oct. 2022 Punch holes in claim-check tags, and attach them to witch hat brims using safety pins. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'witch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near witch

Cite this Entry

“Witch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witch. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a person believed to have magic powers
: a mean or ugly old woman

More from Merriam-Webster on witch

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