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[shah-muh n, shey-, sham-uh n] /ˈʃɑ mən, ˈʃeɪ-, ˈʃæm ən/
(especially among certain tribal peoples) a person who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc.
1690-1700; < German Schamane < Russian shamán, probably < Evenki šamān, samān
Related forms
[shuh-man-ik] /ʃəˈmæn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for shamans
  • Yes, the grounds were now safe again for meditating yogis, shamans and such.
  • Or how many doctors go to witches and shamans to diagnose they're more perplexing patients, or simply to learn medicine.
  • Its shores are sparsely populated, but laden with sites considered hallowed by local shamans.
  • He tried and tried, with a little army of specialists and shamans.
  • It seems the closest art to prayer and where the shamans roam.
  • shamans used music to call upon spirits, conjure ancestors, discover birthplaces and connect with natural surroundings.
  • They functioned both as shamans, interpreting religion and ideology, and rulers who led their subjects in peace and war.
  • For centuries wandering nomads and shamans used music for everything from calling herds to connecting with spirits.
  • The shamans were persecuted, the situation was not without danger.
  • shamans teach that out-of-body experiences are best achieved through meditation, reflection and transcendental calm.
British Dictionary definitions for shamans


a priest of shamanism
a medicine man of a similar religion, esp among certain tribes of North American Indians
Derived Forms
shamanic (ʃəˈmænɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Russian shaman, from Tungusian ̆saman, from Pali samana Buddhist monk, ultimately from Sanskrit śrama religious exercise
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 shamans



1690s, "priest of the Ural-Altaic peoples," probably via German Schamane, from Russian sha'man, from Tungus saman, which is perhaps from Chinese sha men "Buddhist monk," from Prakrit samaya-, from Sanskrit sramana-s "Buddhist ascetic" [OED]. Related: Shamanic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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