in·​can·​ta·​tion | \ ˌin-ˌkan-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce incantation (audio) \

Definition of incantation

: a use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic also : a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect

Other Words from incantation

incantational \ ˌin-​ˌkan-​ˈtā-​shnəl How to pronounce incantation (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
incantatory \ in-​ˈkan-​tə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce incantation (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

Incantation comes directly from the Latin word incantare, "enchant". Incantare itself has cantare as a root, which reminds us that magic and ritual have always been associated with chanting and music. Incantations have often been in strange languages; "Abracadabra" is a not-so-serious version of an incantation.

Examples of incantation in a Sentence

trying to produce a miracle by incantation hovering over the sick child, the witch doctor muttered mysterious incantations
Recent Examples on the Web It has even been compared to alchemy, or incantation. Wired, 18 July 2022 In high, tremulous voices, the Sisters of the Holy Family were chanting their midday prayers when a child’s gleeful shout echoed from a nearby corridor, punctuating the solemn incantation. Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2022 Its stretches of incantation turn into something like a sacred rite. New York Times, 15 May 2022 Metta meditation is a practice, not a magical incantation. Corinne Sullivan, Woman's Day, 6 May 2022 And the word that Zelensky repeats like an incantation? Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 The state of the union address is something of an incantation, offering the president an annual opportunity to argue that his leadership has righted the nation’s course. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 1 Mar. 2022 In addition to celestial charts, the book also contains instructions for meditations and rituals, including an incantation to Venus that is said to summon love. The New Yorker, 10 Feb. 2022 There’s power in the recitation of ancient names and the act of incantation, karakia, is central to Māori culture. Stacey Morrison, Condé Nast Traveler, 15 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incantation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of incantation

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incantation

Middle English incantacioun, from Middle French incantation, from Late Latin incantation-, incantatio, from Latin incantare to enchant — more at enchant

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The first known use of incantation was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

26 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incantation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of incantation for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about incantation


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