Skip to main content
Select Source:

witch

witch a person, typically a woman, who practises magic or sorcery and was traditionally thought to have evil magic powers; such witches are popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, and flying on a broomstick, and are associated with Halloween.

In the Middle Ages and the 16th and 17th centuries, witchcraft was a capital offence and there were numerous trials and executions of suspected witches; sometimes a whole community became involved, as in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692.

In the 20th century, the term witch is now used also for a follower or practitioner of modern witchcraft; a Wiccan priest or priestess.
witch ball a ball of decorated, typically coloured or silvered blown glass, originally used as a charm against witchcraft.
witch doctor among tribal peoples, a magician credited with powers of healing, divination, and protection against the magic of others.
witch-hunt a search for and subsequent persecution of a supposed witch; a campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views.
Witch of Endor in the Bible, the woman who with the help of her familiar spirit conjured up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel for Saul. She is taken as a type of this kind of divination.

See also white witch, witches, witching.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"witch." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"witch." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch

"witch." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

witch

witch / wich/ • n. 1. a woman thought to have evil magic powers. Witches are popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, and flying on a broomstick. ∎  a follower or practitioner of modern witchcraft; a Wiccan priest or priestess. ∎ inf. an ugly or unpleasant old woman; a hag. ∎  a girl or woman capable of enchanting or bewitching a man. 2. an edible North Atlantic flatfish (Glyptocephalus cynoglossus, family Pleuronectidae) that is of some commercial value. • v. [tr.] (of a witch) cast an evil spell on: Mrs. Mucharski had somehow witched the house. ∎  (of a girl or woman) enchant (a man): she witched Jake. DERIVATIVES: witch·like / -ˌlīk/ adj. witch·y adj.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"witch." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"witch." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch-1

"witch." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

witch

witch OE. wiċċe, fem. corr. to wiċċa male magician, sorcerer, wizard, rel. to wiċċian practise magic arts, corr. to (M)LG. wikken, wicken; of unkn. orig.
Hence witchcraft OE. wiċċecræft.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"witch." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"witch." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch-2

"witch." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

witch

witchbewitch, bitch, ditch, enrich, fitch, flitch, glitch, hitch, itch, kitsch, Mitch, pitch, quitch, rich, snitch, stitch, switch, titch, twitch, which, witch •Redditch • Greenwich • eldritch •ostrich • backstitch • hemstitch •topstitch • Shostakovich • tsarevich •Sandwich •dipswitch, Ipswich

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"witch." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"witch." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch-0

"witch." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/witch-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.