Word of the Day : November 16, 2015


noun TAL-iss-mun


1 : an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune

2 : something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects

Did You Know?

Do you believe in lucky charms? Language reflects the fact that many people do. We might have borrowed talisman from French, Spanish, or Italian; all three include similar-looking words for a lucky charm. Those three terms derive from a single Arabic word for a charm, tilsam. Tilsam in turn can be traced to the ancient Greek verb telein, which means "to initiate into the mysteries." While the word talisman, in its strictest use, refers to an object, even a human being can be considered a talisman—such as a player on a team whose mere presence somehow causes magical things to happen.


Ever since he was in grade school, Sarah's grandfather has carried a rabbit's foot in his pocket as a talisman.

"Relics are physical possessions that were once touched by saints, or even their clothing or body parts, which for many serve as a talisman of good fortune." — Larry Getlen, The New York Post, 6 Sept. 2015

Test Your Vocabulary

What 6-letter word beginning with "s" is the name for a stone or earthenware beetle used in ancient Egypt as a talisman?



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