or fet·ich

[fet-ish, fee-tish]
  1. an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.
  2. any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion: to make a fetish of high grades.
  3. Psychology. any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

Origin of fetish

1605–15; earlier fateish < Portuguese feitiço charm, sorcery (noun), artificial (adj.) < Latin factīcius factitious; replacing fatisso, fetisso < Portuguese, as above
Related formsfet·ish·like, adjective

Synonyms for fetish

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fetich

Historical Examples of fetich

  • As with the Hunter, so with the Warrior, the fetich is fed on the life-blood of the slain.

    Zui Fetiches

    Frank Hamilton Cushing

  • Then, taking out the fetich, he breathes on it and from it, and exclaims "Si!"

    Zui Fetiches

    Frank Hamilton Cushing

  • The other was drawn from a sketch made by myself of a fetich in Zuñi.

    Zui Fetiches

    Frank Hamilton Cushing

  • His fetich is, therefore, preferred by the hunter of these animals.

    Zui Fetiches

    Frank Hamilton Cushing

  • I remembered in time that he did not know we called it the Fetich.

    We Ten

    Lyda Farrington Kraus

British Dictionary definitions for fetich



  1. something, esp an inanimate object, that is believed in certain cultures to be the embodiment or habitation of a spirit or magical powers
    1. a form of behaviour involving fetishism
    2. any object that is involved in fetishism
  2. any object, activity, etc, to which one is excessively or irrationally devotedto make a fetish of cleanliness
Derived Formsfetish-like or fetich-like, adjective

Word Origin for fetish

C17: from French fétiche, from Portuguese feitiço (n) sorcery, from adj: artificial, from Latin factīcius made by art, factitious
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 fetich



1610s, fatisso, from Portuguese feitiço "charm, sorcery," from Latin facticius "made by art," from facere "to make" (see factitious).

Latin facticius in Spanish has become hechizo "magic, witchcraft, sorcery." Probably introduced by Portuguese sailors and traders as a name for charms and talismans worshipped by the inhabitants of the Guinea coast of Africa. Popularized in anthropology by C. de Brosses' "Le Culte des Dieux Fétiches" (1760), which influenced the word's spelling in English (French fétiche, also from the Portuguese word). Figurative sense of "something irrationally revered" is American English, 1837.

Any material image of a religious idea is an idol; a material object in which force is supposed to be concentrated is a Fetish; a material object, or a class of material objects, plants, or animals, which is regarded by man with superstitious respect, and between whom and man there is supposed to exist an invisible but effective force, is a Totem. [J. Fitzgerald Lee, "The Greater Exodus," London, 1903]

For sexual sense, see fetishism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fetich in Medicine


[fĕtĭsh, fētĭsh]
  1. Something, such as an object or nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.
  2. An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

fetich in Culture


An object believed to carry a magical or spiritual force. Some so-called primitive tribes practice cult worship of fetishes. (See animism (see also animism) and totemism.)


Figuratively, a “fetish” is any object that arouses excessive devotion: “Lucille made a fetish of her Porsche.”
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.