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Svengali

[sven-gah-lee, sfen-]
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noun
  1. a person who completely dominates another, usually with selfish or sinister motives.
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Origin of Svengali

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

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

    Trilby

    George Du Maurier

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

    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


British Dictionary definitions for svengali

Svengali

noun
  1. a person who controls another's mind, usually with sinister intentions
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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

Word Origin and History for svengali

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper