\ 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 The old witch had warned Wanda that the Darkhold prophesied the Scarlet Witch would destroy the world with power greater than the Sorcerer Supreme. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Spoilers! How that magical 'WandaVision' finale sets the stage for the next round of Marvel movies," 5 Mar. 2021 Perhaps the witch eats children to symbolize her rejection of a system in which women’s domestic duties are seen as implicit rather than as unpaid labor. Cara Michelle Smith, The New Yorker, "Updated Horror-Movie Tropes," 3 Mar. 2021 Hellboy has returned to Virginia nearly a decade after helping Tom Ferrel defeat the Crooked Man, only to find that one of that pale devil’s minions (the witch Effie Kolb) is still around, and apparently being aided by some new arrivals. Christian Holub, EW.com, "The best new comics to read in October: Spooky season is here," 6 Oct. 2020 Also open for those that want to get an early start on the season of the witch are Halloween Land Superstores in Lansing and the Southwest Side of Chicago. Bob Bong, chicagotribune.com, "Comings & Goings: Seasonal Halloween stores popping up throughout the Southland," 15 Sep. 2020 At one point, Adele also shares that one of her relatives was a practicing witch, which is one of the few hints about the ending. Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, "The Ending of 'Behind Her Eyes,' Explained," 17 Feb. 2021 Over several months, a group of young girls claiming to be possessed by the devil condemned a score of men and women to the gallows in one of history’s most infamous witch hunts. Gulnaz Khan, National Geographic, "These are the most haunted places in the United States," 31 Oct. 2020 As the Age of Enlightenment took hold, this gruesome solution started to look like superstitious nonsense, especially to Catholic and Protestant bishops keen to move with the times—and away from witch hunts. Karina Wilson, Smithsonian Magazine, "Decomposing Bodies in the 1720s Gave Birth to the First Vampire Panic," 23 Oct. 2020 Human Rights Watch accused her administration of carrying out judicial witch hunts against political opponents. John Otis, WSJ, "Bolivian Election Shapes Up as Battle Over Former President Evo Morales," 18 Oct. 2020 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

7 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Witch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witch. Accessed 9 Mar. 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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