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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 incantations
  • For too long we've been told how to remember this day through endless ceremonies and incantations.
  • It has its elaborate, formalized incantations, its holy slogans.
  • He can create a mood by using words as incantations.
  • He cures the sick by the laying of hands, and payers and incantations and heavenly songs.
  • The priest controls him by incantations and averts evil from the community.
  • Many specify incantations and exorcism of the kind that would require the help or tuition of a specialist intermediary.
  • Our recently revised regulations do not require parties to invoke any particular magical incantations when filing exceptions.
  • The acrid smoke slowly carried his prayers and incantations toward the sky father.
  • All disclaimers that the court is not bound are often viewed as ceremonial incantations.
British Dictionary definitions for incantations


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
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Word Origin and History for incantations



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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