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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).
words uttered in a set formula with magical intent. The correct recitation, often with accompanying gestures, is considered to unleash supernatural power. Some societies believe that incorrect recitation can not only nullify the magic but cause the death of the practitioner.