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2017 Word of the Year

Svengali

[sven-gah-lee, sfen-] /svɛnˈgɑ li, sfɛn-/
noun
1.
a person who completely dominates another, usually with selfish or sinister motives.
Origin of Svengali
1940-1945
First recorded in 1940-45; after the evil hypnotist of the same name in the novel Trilby (1894) by George Du Maurier
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Svengali
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Nobody knew exactly how Svengali lived, and very few knew where (or why).

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • His touch on either canvas or paper was like Svengali's on the key-board—unique.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • He forgets that there's a fellow called Svengali for the world to talk about!

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • But Svengali merely turned round and bowed—there were to be no encores that night.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • She stared at him with a cold stare of disdain, and cut him dead—so did Svengali.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • Svengali gasped worse than Little Billee, and couldn't speak for a while.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • That Svengali should injure him never entered into his calculations for a moment.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • Svengali, it seems, had reasons for passionately hating Little Billee.

    Trilby George Du Maurier
British Dictionary definitions for Svengali

Svengali

/svɛnˈɡɑːlɪ/
noun
1.
a person who controls another's mind, usually with sinister intentions
Word Origin
after a character in George Du Maurier's novel Trilby (1894)
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 Svengali

"one who exerts controlling or mesmeric influence on another," 1914, from hypnotist character of that name in the novel "Trilby" (1894) by George Du Maurier.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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