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familiar spirit

a supernatural spirit or demon supposed to attend on or serve a person.
Also called familiar.
Origin of familiar spirit
1555-65 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for familiar spirit
Historical Examples
  • Witchcraft which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit to be punished with death.

  • Yes, she liked them, but she thought they were written by a familiar spirit.

    Overlooked Maurice Baring
  • The dead were sometimes raised by those who did not possess a familiar spirit.

    Mysticism and its Results John Delafield
  • The grim “familiar spirit” had triumphed over its evil master.

  • Under one arm she carried her familiar spirit, in the likeness of a black cat, with a single emerald eye.

    The Old-Fashioned Fairy Book Constance Cary Harrison
  • We fear it will be a case of Hamlet without the familiar spirit.

  • Then said Saul to his servants, "Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her."

    The Bible Story Rev. Newton Marshall Hall
  • If any man or woman be a witch (that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit) they shall be put to death.

  • It took me three years of steady work to find that familiar spirit—to discover the exact combination of qualities I required.

    The Air Pirate Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • Always one had been at his elbow—“a familiar spirit out of the ground”—whispering in his ear.

    Northern Lights Gilbert Parker
familiar spirit in the Bible

Sorcerers or necormancers, who professed to call up the dead to answer questions, were said to have a "familiar spirit" (Deut. 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6; Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Isa. 8:19; 29:4). Such a person was called by the Hebrews an _'ob_, which properly means a leathern bottle; for sorcerers were regarded as vessels containing the inspiring demon. This Hebrew word was equivalent to the pytho of the Greeks, and was used to denote both the person and the spirit which possessed him (Lev. 20:27; 1 Sam. 28:8; comp. Acts 16:16). The word "familiar" is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a "household servant," and was intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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