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/ ˈsɔr sər ɪs /
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a woman who practices sorcery; witch.
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Origin of sorceress

1350–1400; Middle English <Anglo-French sorceresse, equivalent to sorcer (see sorcerer) + -esse-ess

usage note for sorceress

See -ess.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sorceress mean?

A sorceress is a woman who can perform sorcerywitchcraft or magic.

The word sorcerer means the same thing but can be used for any gender, although it typically refers to a man.

The word sorcery often (though not always) refers to so-called black magic—magic used for evil purposes. That’s why sorceress and sorcerer are often used to refer to evil characters in works of fiction, especially in the fantasy genre.

In contrast, similar words like wizard and magician usually imply that such figures use their powers for good. If not, you’d usually call them an evil wizard or evil magician.

Apart from whether or not they use their supernatural powers for good or evil, the words sorcerer and sorceress often imply that such a person is very powerful due to having great skill and command of such powers.

For this reason, the word sorceress is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to a woman who is very skilled at something, as if she has magical abilities, as in Maureen is a sorceress at coding. The word sorcery can be used to refer to such skill. The words wizard and wizardry are used (even more commonly) in the same ways.

Example: The sorceress has cast a powerful spell to enchant this land.

Where does sorceress come from?

The first records of the word sorceress come from the second half of the 1300s. The word sorcerer came later, around the 1520s. Both words ultimately come from the Latin sortiārius, meaning “person who casts lots” (referring to a person who tells fortunes). The suffix -ess is used in the feminine form of nouns, as in goddess and empress.

Fictionally speaking, a sorceress is a female magician (the kind who wields supernatural powers, not the kind who does card tricks). Sorceresses (be careful to fit in all those S’s when pronouncing the plural) are often villains in the stories where they appear. A well-known example is the appropriately named Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.

The word sorceress is similar to witch or enchantress, but sorceress implies great magical power and skill. It also often implies evil. The figurative use of the word, though, usually doesn’t imply evil. When you call a chef a sorceress, it’s a compliment meaning that she uses her skill to make magic in the kitchen—not that she’s using her powers for evil.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to sorceress?

What are some synonyms for sorceress?

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


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


How is sorceress used in real life?

Sorceresses most commonly appear (and disappear) in the context of fantasy.



Try using sorceress!

True or False? 

Sorceresses are always evil.

How to use sorceress in a sentence