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or fetich

[fet-ish, fee-tish] /ˈfɛt ɪʃ, ˈfi tɪʃ/
an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.
any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion:
to make a fetish of high grades.
Psychology. any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.
Origin of fetish
1605-15; earlier fateish < Portuguese feitiço charm, sorcery (noun), artificial (adj.) < Latin factīcius factitious; replacing fatisso, fetisso < Portuguese, as above
Related forms
fetishlike, adjective
1. talisman, amulet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fetish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For remember it is not Christianity alone that becomes tinged with fetish, or gets engulfed and dominated by it.

    West African studies Mary Henrietta Kingsley
  • The fetish is any stone picked up in the street—a tree, a chip, a rag.

  • Hence it comes that we have in fetish a religion in which its believers do not hold that devotion to religion constitutes Virtue.

    West African studies Mary Henrietta Kingsley
  • For the rest of the fetish I remain a mere photographic plate.

    West African studies Mary Henrietta Kingsley
  • I wandered about the streets looking for some fetish willing to take an interest in me.

    The Surprises of Life Georges Clemenceau
  • The expert in fetish, the Medicine Man, was the first priest.

  • After fetish Rock, the river bends sharply to the right and soon after Boma is in sight.

  • As for poor old Anita, I believe she thinks it is our fetish.

    Saxe Holm's Stories Helen Hunt Jackson
  • This is known as fetish Rock from the legend that the natives used to throw live people from it into the river as sacrifices.

British Dictionary definitions for fetish


/ˈfɛtɪʃ; ˈfiːtɪʃ/
something, esp an inanimate object, that is believed in certain cultures to be the embodiment or habitation of a spirit or magical powers
  1. a form of behaviour involving fetishism
  2. any object that is involved in fetishism
any object, activity, etc, to which one is excessively or irrationally devoted: to make a fetish of cleanliness
Derived Forms
fetish-like, fetich-like, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from French fétiche, from Portuguese feitiço (n) sorcery, from adj: artificial, from Latin factīcius made by art, factitious
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 fetish

1610s, fatisso, from Portuguese feitiço "charm, sorcery," from Latin facticius "made by art," from facere "to make" (see factitious).

Latin facticius in Spanish has become hechizo "magic, witchcraft, sorcery." Probably introduced by Portuguese sailors and traders as a name for charms and talismans worshipped by the inhabitants of the Guinea coast of Africa. Popularized in anthropology by C. de Brosses' "Le Culte des Dieux Fétiches" (1760), which influenced the word's spelling in English (French fétiche, also from the Portuguese word). Figurative sense of "something irrationally revered" is American English, 1837.

Any material image of a religious idea is an idol; a material object in which force is supposed to be concentrated is a Fetish; a material object, or a class of material objects, plants, or animals, which is regarded by man with superstitious respect, and between whom and man there is supposed to exist an invisible but effective force, is a Totem. [J. Fitzgerald Lee, "The Greater Exodus," London, 1903]
For sexual sense, see fetishism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fetish in Medicine

fetish fet·ish (fět'ĭsh, fē'tĭsh)

  1. Something, such as an object or a nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.

  2. An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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fetish in Culture

fetish definition

An object believed to carry a magical or spiritual force. Some so-called primitive tribes practice cult worship of fetishes. (See animism and totemism.)

Note: Figuratively, a “fetish” is any object that arouses excessive devotion: “Lucille made a fetish of her Porsche.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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