\ 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Two turrets bloom out at the second floor, each topped with a pointed witch’s hat roof. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, "$5.9 million unique private compound north of Chelsea has 5 buildings," 1 May 2021 Like many of the Eternals, Sersi is supposed to be the real version of a god-like figure that has been refracted through human mythology — in this case, Circe, the witch from The Odyssey who turns rapists into pigs. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Kevin Feige teases The Eternals’ Sersi: Here's what you should know about Gemma Chan’s character," 1 May 2021 Given the title, the cover design and the time period, readers might assume that the story deals with a presumption of black magic, public suspicions of women as workers of same, and a witch trial. Washington Post, "Chris Bohjalian’s thriller ‘Hour of the Witch’ is historical fiction at its best," 30 Apr. 2021 Along the way to the Little Palace, they're attacked by a group of Fjerdans, witch hunters from the north. Olivia Truffaut-wong, refinery29.com, "R29 Recaps: Every Episode From Shadow and Bone Season 1," 27 Apr. 2021 Of course the witch is miffed — Dorothy killed her sister. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "The 7 best movie villains of all time, from the glamorous to the downright evil," 14 Apr. 2021 Stephen Jones as the Mad Hatter, Lady Gaga as Hansel and Gretel’s evil witch) added to the enchantments of this series. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "The Magical Thinking of Grace Coddington," 20 Apr. 2021 Alma informs him that this is Parnag Fegg, a witch of local folklore who has become a cautionary tale to warn children away from the forest. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Ben Wheatley’s ‘In the Earth’ summons the elemental nature of folk horror," 15 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, the Warriors should figure out which of their witch doctors to fire. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wiseman's injury could be a sanity break for Warriors, Wiseman," 11 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But, ultimately, both witch and daemon prepared for this moment beforehand. Nick Romano, EW.com, "How Serpentine sets the stage for Philip Pullman's Book of Dust trilogy," 15 Oct. 2020 Lastly, for Mary—the bonkers witch who flies around on a vacuum cleaner—order a grande strawberries and cream Frappuccino. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, "Here's How to Order 'Hocus Pocus'-Themed Frapps at Starbucks This Halloween," 21 Sep. 2020 The favorite, at 4-5, hasn’t had a misstep for trainer Peter Miller, who is witching to jockey Flavien Prat. Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Del Mar in the homestretch," 28 Aug. 2019 Investors are warned that volatility can increase during a quadruple witching as traders adjust their positions. The New York Times, New York Times, "Expect Fed to Raise Interest Rate and F.C.C. to Repeal Net Neutrality," 10 Dec. 2017 Those include Agni's Philosophy and Witch Chapter 0 [cry], the latter of which used bleeding-edge software and hardware in the form of DirectX 12, an eight-core Intel processor, and four Nvidia Titan X graphics cards. Mark Walton, Ars Technica, "Final Fantasy 15 on PC: Has Square Enix lost its way, or do graphics really matter?," 25 Aug. 2017

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.

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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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Time Traveler for witch

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for witch

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Witch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witch. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for witch



English Language Learners Definition of witch

: a woman who is thought to have magic powers
: a person who practices magic as part of a religion (such as Wicca)
informal : a very unpleasant woman


\ 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

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Comments on witch

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