Last modified on 23 February 2015, at 11:52




Etymology 1Edit

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From Middle English wicche, from Old English wiċċe (sorceress, witch) and wicca (witch, sorcerer, warlock), from Proto-Germanic *wikjô (necromancer, waker of the dead) (compare West Frisian wikke (witch), Low German wicken (to foresay, use witchcraft) and Wickersche (a witch), Dutch wikken (to foresay), wichelen (to foresay), Old High German wīhan (to consecrate), Old English wiġle (divination)), from Proto-Indo-European *weik- 'to choose, sacrifice, conjure'; akin to Latin victima (sacrificial victim), Lithuanian viekas (life-force), Sanskrit विनक्ति (vinákti, to sift, separate out).


witch (plural witches)

  1. A person who practices witchcraft; specifically:
    1. A woman who is learned in and actively practices witchcraft.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare:
        He cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch.
    2. (Wicca) A Wiccan.
    3. (archaic outside dialects and Wicca) A man who practices witchcraft.
      • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book I, chapter viij:
        Some of the kynges had merueyl of Merlyns wordes and demed well that it shold be as he said / And som of hem lough hym to scorne / as kyng Lot / and mo other called hym a wytche / But thenne were they accorded with Merlyn that kynge Arthur shold come oute and speke with the kynges
      • (Can we date this quote?) Wyclif Bible (Acts viii. 9)
        There was a man in that city whose name was Simon, a witch.
  1. (derogatory) An ugly or unpleasant woman.
    I hate that old witch.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  2. One who exercises more-than-common power of attraction; a charming or bewitching person.
  3. One given to mischief, especially a woman or child.
  4. (geometry) A certain curve of the third order, described by Maria Agnesi under the name versiera.
  5. The stormy petrel.
  6. Any of a number of flatfish:
    1. Glyptocephalus cynoglossus (Torbay sole), found in the North Atlantic.
    2. Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis (megrim), found in the North Atlantic.
    3. Arnoglossus scapha, found near New Zealand.
Derived termsEdit

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witch (third-person singular simple present witches, present participle witching, simple past and past participle witched)

  1. (obsolete) To practise witchcraft
    'It approaches the witching hour'.
  2. To bewitch
  3. To dowse for water
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Compare wick.


witch (plural witches)

  1. A cone of paper which is placed in a vessel of lard or other fat and used as a taper.