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An 1849 portrait of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) by Jules Porreau


From French mesmérisme, analysable as Mesmer +‎ -ism; so called after Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815), a German physician who developed the animal magnetism theory.


  • IPA(key): /ˈmɛzməˌɹɪzəm/
  • Hyphenation: mes‧mer‧ism


mesmerism (countable and uncountable, plural mesmerisms)

  1. The method or power of gaining control over someone's personality or actions, as in hypnosis or suggestion.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 23:
      What is the secret mesmerism which friendship possesses, and under the operation of which a person ordinarily sluggish, or cold, or timid, becomes wise, active, and resolute, in another's behalf?
  2. The state induced by hypnotic methods (especially that of Mesmer himself).

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