from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A charm; a spell; an incantation.
  • n. A piece of mischief artfully or adroitly performed; a trick.


  • 'Mistress Mary,' said Elspeth, 'you never told us anything before that was not true; tell us if this was a Hallowe’en cantrip, and make an end of it.'

    The Monastery, by Sir Walter Scott

  • Cantrips are witch spells, incantations, or the black art witches use when going on with their witcheries: various snatches of cantrip rhyme are yet afloat on the atmosphere of tradition, not unsimilar to what Shakespeare introduces in his tragedy of Macbeth.

    The Book of Scottish Anecdote, Edited by A. Hislop

  • She and Jean Dickson, another witch, cured a neighbour's child by cutting off a dog's head, with which they played some devilish cantrip that healed the bairn.

    Witch Stories


This word is Scottish in origin.