- a person who completely dominates another, usually with selfish or sinister motives.
Origin of Svengali
First recorded in 1940–45; after the evil hypnotist of the same name in the novel Trilby (1894) by George Du Maurier
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for svengali
But one look at the film is enough to dispel all notions of Svengali.The Legend With The Look: Remembering Lauren Bacall
August 13, 2014
Well, he was no Svengali, no alchemist and, obviously, they would have happened without him.What It Was Like to Watch the Beatles Become the Beatles—Nik Cohn Remembers
February 9, 2014
Nobody knew exactly how Svengali lived, and very few knew where (or why).
His touch on either canvas or paper was like Svengali's on the key-board—unique.
He forgets that there's a fellow called Svengali for the world to talk about!
But Svengali merely turned round and bowed—there were to be no encores that night.
She stared at him with a cold stare of disdain, and cut him dead—so did Svengali.
- a person who controls another's mind, usually with sinister intentions
after a character in George Du Maurier's novel Trilby (1894)
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 svengali
"one who exerts controlling or mesmeric influence on another," 1914, from hypnotist character of that name in the novel "Trilby" (1894) by George Du Maurier.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper