[ sawr-suh-ree ]
/ ˈsɔr sə ri /
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noun, plural sor·cer·ies.

the art, practices, or spells of a person who is supposed to exercise supernatural powers through the aid of evil spirits; black magic; witchery.



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Origin of sorcery

1250–1300; Middle English sorcerie, from Medieval Latin sorceria.See sorcerer, -y3

synonym study for sorcery

See magic.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does sorcery mean?

Sorcery is supernatural power or the ability to use supernatural powers—witchcraft or magic.

The word sorcery often (though not always) refers to so-called black magic—magic used for evil purposes.

A person who can perform sorcery is called a sorcerer (which can be used for any gender, but typically refers to a man) or a sorceress (which refers to a woman). Sorcerer and sorceress are often used to refer to evil characters in works of fiction, especially in the “sword and sorcery” 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 it’s used for good or evil, the words sorcery implies great power—and often great skill and command of such power.

For this reason, the word sorcery is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to great skill in something, as if it’s a magical ability, as in Chris’s skill in coding is straight-up sorcery. The word wizardry is used (even more commonly) in the same way. A person who’s skilled in this way can be called a wizard, a sorcerer, or a sorceress.

Example: I fear that some evil sorcery has enchanted this land.

Where does sorcery come from?

The first records of the word sorcery come from the 1200s. It ultimately comes from the Latin sortiārius, meaning “person who casts lots” (referring to a person who tells fortunes).

Fictionally speaking, sorcery is a magic (the kind with supernatural power, not the kind with card tricks). Sorcerers are often villains in the stories where they appear, but this is not always the case. Sorcery only sometimes implies evil, but it always implies great magical power and skill. The figurative use of the word usually doesn’t imply evil. When you call someone’s cooking sorcery, it’s a compliment meaning that they make magic in the kitchen with their great skill—not that they use their powers for evil.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to sorcery?


What are some synonyms for sorcery?

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

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


How is sorcery used in real life?

The word sorcery is most commonly used in the context of fantasy, but it’s also used in a figurative way.



Try using sorcery!

True or False? 

Sorcery is always evil.

How to use sorcery in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sorcery

/ (ˈsɔːsərɪ) /

noun plural -ceries

the art, practices, or spells of magic, esp black magic, by which it is sought to harness occult forces or evil spirits in order to produce preternatural effects in the world

Derived forms of sorcery

sorcerous, adjective

Word Origin for sorcery

C13: from Old French sorcerie, from sorcier sorcerer
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