[ kuh-riz-muh ]
/ kəˈrɪz mə /
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noun, plural cha·ris·ma·ta [kuh-riz-muh-tuh]. /kəˈrɪz mə tə/.
Theology. a divinely conferred gift or power.
a spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.
the special virtue of an office, function, position, etc., that confers or is thought to confer on the person holding it an unusual ability for leadership, worthiness of veneration, or the like.
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Also char·ism [kar-iz-uhm]. /ˈkær ɪz əm/.

Origin of charisma

1635–45; <Late Latin <Greek, equivalent to char- (base of cháris favor, charízesthai to favor; akin to yearn, exhort) + -isma-ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does charisma mean?

Charisma is the magnetic and charming personal quality that draws people to someone.

People who have an outgoing, energetic, and likable personality that seems to naturally draw other people to them are said to have charisma. Such people are often described with the adjective form of the word, charismatic.

A person with charisma is thought to be able to easily influence others. Charisma is most often used in a positive way as a compliment, but it is sometimes used to imply that someone’s appeal is based entirely on their outgoing personality, rather than the substance of their actions or their character.

The word is also used in a religious context in a more specific way to refer to a spiritual gift or a special ability for leadership. This sense of the word is sometimes seen as charism, and can be pluralized as charismata.

Example: People like a candidate who’s got charisma and can get them excited, not someone who just drones on about facts and figures.

Where does charisma come from?

The first records of the word charisma come from the 1600s. It comes from the Greek kharisma, meaning “grace” or “favor.” The term was originally used in a religious sense in reference to a type of spiritual quality.

Someone who has charisma can command a room and have everyone hanging on their every word. The word implies that a person can easily attract followers. For this reason, charismatic people are especially successful in politics, entertainment, romance, and any other activity that involves winning people over.

Someone who’s especially charismatic may be said to have charisma to burn—meaning they have an abundance of charisma. However, saying that someone has charisma doesn’t necessarily mean that they use this power for good. Con artists, cult leaders, and crooked politicians can be described as charismatic.

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What are some other forms related to charisma?

  • charism (alternate spelling)
  • charismata (plural)
  • charismatic (adjective)

What are some synonyms for charisma?

What are some words that share a root or word element with charisma

What are some words that often get used in discussing charisma?

How is charisma used in real life?

Charisma is typically used in a positive way to compliment someone’s personality. It’s most often used in reference to people who are easily likeable.



Try using charisma!

Which of the following things would it be easy for a person with charisma to get people to do?

A. like them
B. listen to them
C. follow them
D. all of the above

How to use charisma in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for charisma


charism (ˈkærɪzəm)

/ (kəˈrɪzmə) /

a special personal quality or power of an individual making him capable of influencing or inspiring large numbers of people
a quality inherent in a thing which inspires great enthusiasm and devotion
Christianity a divinely bestowed power or talent

Derived forms of charisma

charismatic (ˌkærɪzˈmætɪk), adjective

Word Origin for charisma

C17: from Church Latin, from Greek kharisma, from kharis grace, favour
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

Cultural definitions for charisma

[ (kuh-riz-muh) ]

Extraordinary power and appeal of personality; natural ability to inspire a large following.

notes for charisma

Political leaders such as John F. Kennedy, religious leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and entertainment figures such as Greta Garbo have all been described as charismatic.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.