witchhood

witch

[wich]
noun
1.
a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic, especially black magic or the black art; sorceress. Compare warlock.
2.
an ugly or mean old woman; hag: the old witch who used to own this building.
3.
a person who uses a divining rod; dowser.
verb (used with object)
4.
to bring by or as by witchcraft (often followed by into, to, etc.): She witched him into going.
5.
Archaic. to affect as if by witchcraft; bewitch; charm.
verb (used without object)
6.
to prospect with a divining rod; dowse.
adjective
7.
of, pertaining to, or designed as protection against witches.

Origin:
before 900; Middle English wicche, Old English wicce (feminine; compare wicca(masculine) wizard; see wicked)

witchhood, noun
witchlike, adjective
underwitch, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
witch1 (wɪtʃ)
 
n
1.  a person, usually female, who practises or professes to practise magic or sorcery, esp black magic, or is believed to have dealings with the devil
2.  an ugly or wicked old woman
3.  a Wiccan priest or priestess
4.  a fascinating or enchanting woman
5.  short for water witch
 
vb
6.  (tr) to cause or change by or as if by witchcraft
7.  a less common word for bewitch
 
[Old English wicca; related to Middle Low German wicken to conjure, Swedish vicka to move to and fro]
 
'witchlike1
 
adj

witch2 (wɪtʃ)
 
n
a flatfish, Pleuronectes (or Glyptocephalus) cynoglossus, of N Atlantic coastal waters, having a narrow greyish-brown body marked with tiny black spots: family Pleuronectidae (plaice, flounders, etc)
 
[C19: perhaps from witch1, alluding to the appearance of the fish]

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

witch
O.E. wicce "female magician, sorceress," in later use esp. "a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts," fem. of O.E. wicca "sorcerer, wizard, man who practices witchcraft or magic," from verb wiccian "to practice
witchcraft" (cf. Low Ger. wikken, wicken "to use witchcraft," wikker, wicker "soothsayer"). OED says of uncertain origin. Klein suggests connection with O.E. wigle "divination," and wig, wih "idol." Watkins says the nouns represent a P.Gmc. *wikkjaz "necromancer" (one who wakes the dead), from PIE *weg-yo-, from *weg- "to be strong, be lively." That wicce once had a more specific sense than the later general one of "female magician, sorceress" perhaps is suggested by the presence of other words in O.E. describing more specific kinds of magical craft. In the Laws of Ælfred (c.890), witchcraft was specifically singled out as a woman's craft, whose practitioners were not to be suffered to live among the W. Saxons:
"Ða fæmnan þe gewuniað onfon gealdorcræftigan & scinlæcan & wiccan, ne læt þu ða libban."
The other two words combined with it here are gealdricge, a woman who practices "incantations," and scinlæce "female wizard, woman magician," from a root meaning "phantom, evil spirit." Another word that appears in the Anglo-Saxon laws is lyblæca "wizard, sorcerer," but with suggestions of skill in the use of drugs, since the root of the word is lybb "drug, poison, charm." Lybbestre was a fem. word meaning "sorceress," and lybcorn was the name of a certain medicinal seed (perhaps wild saffron). Weekly notes possible connection to Gothic weihs "holy" and Ger. weihan "consecrate," and writes, "the priests of a suppressed religion naturally become magicians to its successors or opponents." In Anglo-Saxon glossaries, wicca renders L. augur (c.1100), and wicce stands for "pythoness, divinatricem." In the "Three Kings of Cologne" (c.1400) wicca translates Magi:
"Þe paynyms ... cleped þe iij kyngis Magos, þat is to seye wicchis."
The glossary translates L. necromantia ("demonum invocatio") with galdre, wiccecræft. The Anglo-Saxon poem called "Men's Crafts" has wiccræft, which appears to be the same word, and by its context means "skill with horses." In a c.1250 translation of "Exodus," witches is used of the Egyptian midwives who save the newborn sons of the Hebrews: "Ðe wicches hidden hem for-ðan, Biforen pharaun nolden he ben." Witch in ref. to a man survived in dialect into 20c., but the fem. form was so dominant by 1601 that men-witches or he-witch began to be used. Extended sense of "young woman or girl of bewitching aspect or manners" is first recorded 1740. Witch doctor is from 1718; applied to African magicians from 1836.
"At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, 'she is a witch,' or 'she is a wise woman.' " [Reginald Scot, "The Discoverie of Witchcraft," 1584]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Witch definition


Occurs only in Ex. 22:18, as the rendering of _mekhashshepheh_, the feminine form of the word, meaning "enchantress" (R.V., "sorceress"), and in Deut. 18:10, as the rendering of _mekhashshepheth_, the masculine form of the word, meaning "enchanter."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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