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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.
Origin of shaman
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for shaman
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They rushed toward the man on the stake, but the shaman beat them back.

    Beyond the Black River Robert E. Howard
  • He had never forgiven the shaman, you see, for that old story about the Corn Maiden.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • The woman Ipsukuk fell to weeping for a son lost long years agone in the ice, and the shaman made incantation and prophecy.

    The Faith of Men Jack London
  • She put on her shaman's dress and about the middle of the day the Cacique of the Sun sent for them.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • Had the shaman retreated so far along the road to his past that he now believed in his own supernatural powers?

    The Defiant Agents Andre Alice Norton
  • He was older than I, but he was also fat, and for all his shaman's dress I was not frightened.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
British Dictionary definitions for shaman


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 shaman

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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