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Definition Of The Word ‘Witch’

Hello, I was just wondering about the definition of the word ‘witch’ in the dictionary? The definition is gendered to be female but in certain films, TV shows, books and even in certain historical cases males can be witches too. I’m just wondering about the definition, I’m intrigued :)


  • walirlanwalirlan
    edited January 2018

    I've never heard of it that this word might be applied to males. If you could give us an example from some book or books (some sentences) that would be great.

  • You are right @walirlan.

    A witch is a woman. The masculine alternative is wizard





  • Hello @kerbooth. This is a really interesting question! I remember reading the Wicca series of books by Cate Tiernan a long time ago, and both the male and female characters in this were referred to as witches. The Oxford Dictionaries definitions for the various senses of witch do mostly reference women, but there is also (sense 1.1.): 'A follower or practitioner of Wicca or of modern witchcraft.' Perhaps you can use witch to refer to a man if they are a Wiccan?

    One other little piece of information that you might like to know: the earliest evidence for the use of witch recorded in the OED dates to c890, and the definition reads ' A man who practises witchcraft or magic; a magician, sorcerer, wizard.'

    In modern usage, I would say that witch normally applies to women, but that isn't to say that it can't be, or hasn't ever been, used to refer to men!

  • You are quite right in this. The practitioners of Wicca and various other modern Pagan belief systems do generally refer to themselves as witches and see it as an honorific. The term 'witch' is, in this case, non-gender specific.
    Historically, witches were sometimes referred to as being a 'wise woman' or a 'cunning man'. These were people who were skilled in working with herbs and healing. They probably avoided the term witch due to the seriously misguided persecution which was rife in earlier times.

  • edited February 2018

    or what about a new word for all genders, biological or cultural, like witchard or wiztch???

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