Definitions

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

  • n. An object marked with magic signs and believed to confer on its bearer supernatural powers or protection.
  • n. Something that apparently has magic power.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A magical object worn for protection against ill will, or the supernatural, or to confer the wearer with a boon such as good luck, good health, or power(s).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A magical figure cut or engraved under certain superstitious observances of the configuration of the heavens, to which wonderful effects are ascribed; the seal, figure, character, or image, of a heavenly sign, constellation, or planet, engraved on a sympathetic stone, or on a metal corresponding to the star, in order to receive its influence.
  • n. Hence, something that produces extraordinary effects, esp. in averting or repelling evil; an amulet; a charm.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A supposed charm consisting of a magical figure cut or engraved under certain superstitious observances of the configuration of the heavens; the seal, figure, character, or image of a heavenly sign, constellation, or planet engraved on a sympathetic stone, or on a metal corresponding to the star, in order to receive its influence.
  • n. Figuratively, any means to the attainment of extraordinary results; a charm.
  • n. Synonyms See amulet, and definition of phylactery.
  • n. A Mohammedan priest.

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

  • n. a trinket or piece of jewelry usually hung about the neck and thought to be a magical protection against evil or disease

Etymologies

French talisman or Spanish talismán or Italian talismano, all from Arabic ṭilasm, from Late Greek telesma, from Greek, consecration ceremony, from telein, to consecrate, fulfill, from telos, result.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French talisman partly from Arabic طلسم (ṭílasm), from Ancient Greek τέλεσμα (telesma, "payment"); and partly directly from Byzantine Greek τέλεσμα ("talisman, religious rite, completion"), from τελέω ("to perform religious rites, to complete"), from τέλος ("end, fulfillment, accomplishment, consummation, completion"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • JoeCool, chill. The Century Dictionary was published nearly 100 years ago. At the time, "Mohammedan" was the well-established, fully acceptable, politically correct term for someone who followed the teachings of the prophet Mohammed (just as Buddhists follow the teachings of Buddha, and Christians follow the teachings of Christ).

    This is another example of Wordnik giving too little pertinent information about the definitions it provides. It would be good to tell us the edition and date of the dictionaries that are cited. Obviously, a definition from a 100-year-old dictionary will have a different value from a definition from a dictionary published in 2010.

    Also, as you suggest, usage notes would be helpful. I have no idea why "talisman" is defined as a Muslim cleric, but clearly such usage of the word is obsolete today. Similarly, Century's definition no. 2 is a very narrow, technical usage of the word (in anthropology), while only the 3rd and 4th definitions reflect the way we use the word today in general speech.

    July 12, 2011

  • Thanks! You've given me another one to add to my list of "disturbing definitions" from the Century.

    July 11, 2011

  • the 1st definition from Century Dictionary & Cyclopedia "A Mohammedan priest." is highly incorrect both politically and factually. Moreover, there are no usage examples provided to support such a statement.
    1. there is no such thing as a "Mohammedan"
    2. in ISLAM (the PROPER term for the religion referenced) there are no priests, or should Jews be called Mosesans? Likewise, what religion calls itself "Jesusans"?. The correct term would likely be "imam".

    July 11, 2011