Word of the Day : November 23, 2013

Svengali

play
noun sven-GAH-lee

Definition

: a person who manipulates or exerts excessive control over another

Did You Know?

In George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby, a young artist's model named Trilby O'Ferrall falls under the spell of Svengali, a villainous musician and hypnotist. Svengali trains Trilby's voice through hypnosis and transforms her into a singing star, subjugating her completely in the process. Svengali's maleficent powers of persuasion made such an impression on the reading public that by 1919 his name was being used generically as a term for any wickedly manipulative individual.


Examples

In her tell-all autobiography, the singer portrays her former husband/manager as an abusive and controlling Svengali.

"Not long before, he'd met Harvey Dorfman, a gruff, Bronx-born sports psychologist who was destined to become the pitcher's Svengali. The famously confrontational Dorfman drilled his self-help dictums into Moyer's head." - From an article by Frank Fitzpatrick on philly.com, October 13, 2013



Test Your Memory

What word begins with "a" and completes this sentence from a former Word of the Day piece: "As the movie progresses the characters become involved in a series of __________ misadventures, each one funnier and more absurd than the last"? The answer is …


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!