Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A strong or spellbinding appeal; fascination.
  • n. Hypnotic induction believed to involve animal magnetism.
  • n. Hypnotism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The method or power of gaining control over someone's personality or actions, as in hypnosis or suggestion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An earlier name for hypnosis or hypnotism, the art of inducing an extraordinary or abnormal state of the nervous system, in which the actor claims to control the actions, and communicate directly with the mind, of the recipient. It is believed to be a state between sleep and wakefulness, in which a person is more susceptible to suggestion than when awake. See Animal magnetism, under magnetism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The doctrine that-one person can exercise influence over the will and nervous system of another, and produce certain phenomena by virtue of a supposed emanation, called animal magnetism, proceeding from him, or simply by the domination of his will over that of the person operated on.
  • n. The influence itself; animal magnetism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of inducing hypnosis

Etymologies

After Franz Mesmer.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French mesmérisme; so called after Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), a German physician who developed the animal magnetism theory. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It were impossible, in a space like ours, to give even an outline of the different species of waren and their strange practices, part of which would seem to be akin to what we call mesmerism and clairvoyance, with the addition of spells and sacrifices.

    Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 457 Volume 18, New Series, October 2, 1852

  • That this power, which we call mesmerism, was also known to the priests of ancient Egypt, is supposed to be proved by carvings on the temples of priests making the passes with their hands, opposite other figures, to produce the sleep; a circumstance which has been recounted as proving a connection between the ancient religion in Egypt, and some unknown faith formerly prevalent in India, at the time the temples of Elephanta, Kennery, and others were built.

    Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 457 Volume 18, New Series, October 2, 1852

  • As Tatar has observed, it was no accident, given the roots of psychoanalysis in mesmerism and hypnosis, that Freud should so often have had recourse to the vocabulary of hydraulics and electromagnetism in formulating his metapsychology (43-44).

    Re-collecting Spontaneous Overflows

  • No. What is commonly called mesmerism could not do this; but there may be a power akin to mesmerism, and superior to it—the power that in the old days was called Magic.

    The Haunted and the Haunters: Or the House and the Brain

  • No. What is commonly called mesmerism could not do this; but there may be a power akin to mesmerism, and superior to it, -- the power that in the old days was called Magic.

    The Lock and Key Library Classic Mystery and Detective Stories: Old Time English

  • No. What is commonly called mesmerism could not do this; but there may be a power akin to mesmerism, and superior to it -- the power that in the old days was called Magic.

    Pausanias, the Spartan The Haunted and the Haunters, an Unfinished Historical Romance

  • There and then he deliberately set himself to resist mesmerism, which is the East's chief weapon.

    In The Time Of Light

  • In the first instance it was called mesmerism, then animal magnetism, while to-day, when it has forced its way through incredulity, distrust, and opposition of all sorts, and come to the front in very truth, it faces us as a power which bids fair to be more and more with us as time goes on under the name of Hypnotism.

    Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman

  • I have heard of such things at home; they are called mesmerism and clairvoyance.

    Rujub, the Juggler

  • But the repetitiveness of Seidel's autopilot rhythms is so grating: Seidel achieves a kind of mesmerism, but there's no range.

    Archive 2009-07-01

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Franz Anton Mesmer first practiced mesmerism in France in the 1770s, where it was quite popular for a while. In the 1830s, England experienced a revival of the fad, which moved to American in the late 1830s and early 1840s.

    April 14, 2011