Definitions

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

  • n. The practice of supposedly communicating with the spirits of the dead in order to predict the future.
  • n. Black magic; sorcery.
  • n. Magic qualities.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Divination involving the dead or death.
  • n. Loosely, any sorcery or witchcraft, especially involving death or the dead, particularly sorcery involving raising or reanimating the dead.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The art of revealing future events by means of a pretended communication with the dead; the black art; hence, magic in general; conjuration; enchantment. See black art.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Divination by calling up the spirits of the dead and conversing with them; the pretended summoning of apparitions of the dead in order that they may answer questions.
  • n. The art of magic in general; enchantment; conjuration; the black art.

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

  • n. the belief in magical spells that harness occult forces or evil spirits to produce unnatural effects in the world
  • n. conjuring up the dead, especially for prophesying

Etymologies

Alteration of Middle English nigromancie, from Old French nigremancie, from Medieval Latin nigromantia, alteration (influenced by Latin niger, black) of Late Latin necromantia, from Greek nekromanteia : nekros, corpse; + manteia, divination; see -mancy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek νεκρομαντεία (nekromanteia), νεκρός (nekros, "dead") + μαντεία (manteia, "divination"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In fact, little by little the term necromancy lost its strict meaning and was applied to all forms of black art, becoming closely associated with alchemy, witchcraft, and magic.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman

  • The Bible certainly does address the issue of dealing with evil spirits in that it explicitly forbids engaging in pagan worship, conjuring up the dead or spirit-guides (what we call necromancy--things like ouija boards and mediums and seances), and anything that might be called magic (trying to manipulate the material world by spiritual means).

    What does the church say about ghosts?

  • As dreams of the woman Lilitu haunt the warrior Pyrrhas, necromancy is in his future, it would seem.

    Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror: The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard - Robert E. Howard

  • History as necromancy is avowed in the Preface to Life of

    Notes on 'Attached to Reading: Mary Shelley's Psychical Reality'

  • I need hardly remind you that ‘necromancy’ is a Greek word, which signifies, according to its proper meaning, a prophesying by aid of the dead, or that it rests on the presumed power of raising up by potent spells the dead, and compelling them to give answers about things to come.

    English Past and Present

  • Victor the image of his former self, given Victor’s youthful interest in necromancy and raising the dead [22].

    _Frankenstein_'s Cinematic Dream

  • The ordinary Englishman is not a great believer in devils or spirits of evil: though he does in some instances believe in ghosts, and is inclined to the practice of what in former ages was called necromancy -- the attempt to establish an illicit connexion with the spirits of the departed -- under the modern name of psychical research.

    Religious Reality

  • "Let me explain!" said Donal: "what could necromancy, which is one of the branches of magic, do for one at the best?"

    Donal Grant, by George MacDonald

  • So exceedingly sensitive was the conscience of the priest, that had he clearly understood the game le Bourdon was playing, he might have revolted at the idea of necromancy, as touching on the province of evil spirits; but he was so well mystified as to suppose all that passed was regularly connected with the art of taking bees.

    Oak Openings

  • Does this not speak of necromancy, which is paganism at its worst?

    Edmonton Sun

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