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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for incantation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The incantation that had never yet failed of its hated purpose was pronounced in vain.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • This door should only open to the incantation of "Taraporevala."

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • Had the Sirens only to utter this one incantation, and was every listener constrained to stay?

    The Memorabilia Xenophon
  • No; this was the incantation reserved for souls athirst for fame, of virtue emulous.

    The Memorabilia Xenophon
  • By the command of Anu, Anatum, and Belit, recite the incantation.

  • The word used is tû which means a charm or incantation in general.

  • He took a deep breath, as if he were about to spit out an incantation.

    Wizard Laurence Mark Janifer (AKA Larry M. Harris)
  • It was the power of vision and movement, the power of spell and incantation.

    Hex Laurence Mark Janifer (AKA Larry M. Harris)
  • He heard a rustling in the hedge, and the incantation suddenly ceased.

    Parkhurst Boys Talbot Baines Reed
British Dictionary definitions for incantation


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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for incantation

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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