• synonyms


or fet·ich·ism

[fet-i-shiz-uh m, fee-ti-]
  1. belief in or use of fetishes.
  2. Psychiatry. the compulsive use of some object, or part of the body, as a stimulus in the course of attaining sexual gratification, as a shoe, a lock of hair, or underclothes.
  3. blind devotion: a fetishism of sacrifice to one's children.
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Origin of fetishism

First recorded in 1795–1805; fetish + -ism
Related formsfet·ish·ist, nounfet·ish·is·tic, adjectivefet·ish·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fetishism

Historical Examples of fetishism

  • We will exchange it even with Paganism, with Fetishism; and, on the whole, must exchange it with something.

    Past and Present

    Thomas Carlyle

  • Fetishism, phallicism, animism, and tree- and serpent-worship were very common.

  • Our beginning is with the prevailing religion of Africa, Fetishism.

  • Fetishism, too, bulks largely in Egyptian religious conceptions.

  • Fetishism is, as he says, an ill word, and has caused much confusion.

    Modern Mythology

    Andrew Lang

British Dictionary definitions for fetishism



  1. a condition in which the handling of an inanimate object or a specific part of the body other than the sexual organs is a source of sexual satisfaction
  2. belief in or recourse to a fetish for magical purposes
  3. excessive attention or attachment to something
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Derived Formsfetishist or fetichist, nounfetishistic or fetichistic, adjective
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 fetishism


1801, "worship of fetishes;" in the purely psycho-sexual sense first recorded 1897 in writings of Henry Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), from fetish + -ism.

In certain perversions of the sexual instinct, the person, part of the body, or particular object belonging to the person by whom the impulse is excited, is called the fetish of the patient. [E. Morselli in "Baldwin Dictionary of Philosophy," 1901]

Related: Fetishist (1845; psycho-sexual sense from 1897).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fetishism in Medicine


(fĕtĭ-shĭz′əm, fētĭ-)
  1. The act of using a fetish for sexual arousal and gratification.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.