[kuhv-uhn, koh-vuhn]
an assembly of witches, especially a group of thirteen.

1500–10 for sense “assembly”; 1655–65 for current sense; variant of obsolete covent assembly, religious group, convent Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
coven (ˈkʌvən)
1.  a meeting of witches
2.  a company of 13 witches
[C16: probably from Old French covin group, ultimately from Latin convenīre to come together; compare convent]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"a gathering of witches," 1662, earlier (c.1500) a variant of covent, cuvent early forms of convent (q.v.). Association with witches arose in Scotland, but not popularized until Sir Walter Scott used it in this sense in "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft" (1830).
"Ther vold meit bot sometymes a Coven .... Ther is threttein persones in ilk Coeven." [Crim. Trials Scot. III 606, 1662]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


basic group in which witches are said to gather. One of the chief proponents of the theory of a coven was the English Egyptologist Margaret Murray in her work The Witch Cult in Western Europe (1921). According to her a coven consists of 12 witches and a devil as leader. The number is generally taken as a parody of Christ and his 12 disciples. (An alternate theory, stressing the Murray view of a pre-Christian tradition of witches, explains 13 as the maximum number of dancers that can be accommodated in a nine-foot circle.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Investigations would no longer be conducted by a coven of professionals working in secret.
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