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[in-kan-tey-shuh n] /ˌɪn kænˈteɪ ʃən/
the chanting or uttering of words purporting to have magical power.
the formula employed; a spell or charm.
magical ceremonies.
magic; sorcery.
repetitious wordiness used to conceal a lack of content; obfuscation:
Her prose too often resorts to incantation.
Origin of incantation
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin incantātiōn- (stem of incantātiō), equivalent to incantāt(us) past participle of incantāre to put a spell on, bewitch (see enchant, -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
incantational, incantatory
[in-kan-tuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ɪnˈkæn təˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
incantator, noun
4. witchcraft, black magic, wizardry. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for incantation
  • It is not a magical incantation, the slightest deviation from which will break the spell.
  • And there's kind of hypnotic incantation to the sentences.
  • Our compelling lure was a segment of an angle worm, and our incantation was to spit on the bait.
  • The melody unfolds as a hypnotic incantation based on three pitches only.
  • The controversy cannot acquire federal jurisdiction through the incantation of due process or equal protection.
  • On display are sheets of gold and silver incised with an incantation.
  • Neither infatuation with complexity nor statistical incantation makes an evaluation stronger.
  • The word safety is not a magical incantation that permits government functionaries to do as they please.
  • He could bring down the entire plane by muttering an incantation in the bathroom.
British Dictionary definitions for incantation


ritual recitation of magic words or sounds
the formulaic words or sounds used; a magic spell
Derived Forms
incantational, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin incantātiō an enchanting, from incantāre to repeat magic formulas, from Latin, from in-² + cantāre to sing; see enchant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for incantation

late 14c., from Old French incantacion "spell, exorcism" (13c.), from Latin incantationem (nominative incantatio) "art of enchanting," noun of action from past participle stem of incantare "bewitch, charm," literally "sing spells" (see enchantment).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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incantation in Technology

Any particularly arbitrary or obscure command that one must mutter at a system to attain a desired result. Not used of passwords or other explicit security features. Especially used of tricks that are so poorly documented that they must be learned from a wizard. "This compiler normally locates initialised data in the data segment, but if you mutter the right incantation they will be forced into text space."

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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