Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small triangular board supported by two casters and a vertical pencil that, when lightly touched by the fingertips, is said to spell out subconscious or supernatural messages.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A small heart-shaped or triangular board mounted on three supports, of which two, placed at the angles of the base, are easily moving casters, and the third, placed at the apex, is a pencil-point.
  • noun A circumferentor.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A circumferentor. See circumferentor.
  • noun A small tablet of wood supported on casters and having a pencil attached. The characters produced by the pencil on paper, while the hand rests on the instrument and it is allowed to move, are sometimes translated as of oracular or supernatural import.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small plank.
  • noun spiritualism A type of Ouija board. (A small tablet of wood supported on casters and having a pencil attached. The characters produced by the pencil on paper, while the hand rests on the instrument and it is allowed to move, are sometimes interpreted as of oracular or supernatural import.)
  • noun A plane-table.
  • noun Circular, colored dots pressed into paper money, used to distinguish authentic currency from counterfeit currency.

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

  • noun a triangular board supported on casters; when lightly touched with the fingertips it is supposed to spell out supernatural (or unconscious) messages

Etymologies

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

[French, from Old French, diminutive of planche, board; see planchet.]

Examples

  • As we returned to the humble huts and partook of sheep-cheese and rakia, I remembered that many of the tribes of my own land believe in planchette and table-turning – consult palmists and globe-gazers, are "Christian Scientists" and "Higher Thoughters" – and reflected that all the training of all the schools had but little removed a large mass of the British public from the intellectual standpoint of High Albania, whereas for open-handed generosity and hospitality the Albanian ranks incomparably higher.

    High Albania

  • He really believes that he can receive messages from the dead through this very simple contraption: a cardboard chart of all twenty-six letters in the Latin alphabet and all the numbers zero through nine, with a plastic heart-shaped doodad known as a planchette that has three stubby legs and a tiny window of sorts in the middle.

    Learning to Die in Miami

  • After this the seances were given up but Jacobsen produced an instrument called a planchette and with difficulty persuaded Bickley to try it, which he did after many precautions.

    When the World Shook; being an account of the great adventure of Bastin, Bickley and Arbuthnot

  • These two, together with Lute's aunt and uncle plus a Mrs. Grantly, and a corporate rich man named Mr. Barton, all sit down to a session of Planchette, a form of Ouija involving a "planchette," or triangular board on moving casters with a pencil at the apex of the triangle.

    “I ain't never goin' to work again. . . . I'm plum tired out.”

  • Some years ago, when the "planchette" first came out, I remember that it acquired quite a reputation as a particularly erratic piece of mechanism, but for real mystery and _innate cussedness_, on general principles, commend me to the indicator.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 392, July 7, 1883

  • In the earlier years of the spiritualist movement, a "planchette," a little heart-shaped board running on wheels, was employed to facilitate the process of writing.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 1 "Austria, Lower" to "Bacon"

  • "I'll be hanged if I can associate psychics with a biceps like Berber's; somehow those things seem the special prerogative of anemic women in white cheese-cloth fooling with 'planchette' and 'currents.'"

    The Best Short Stories of 1920 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story

  • With a large planchette that makes the board very easy to use, it is the ideal gift for any Buffy fan who has ever wished to dabble in the “dark arts” and take a step into the “supernatural world.”

    “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Conversations With Dead People” by Dark Horse Comics (Dark Horse, 2008) « The BookBanter Blog

  • With a large planchette that makes the board very easy to use, it is the ideal gift for any Buffy fan who has ever wished to dabble in the “dark arts” and take a step into the “supernatural world.”

    2010 February 16 « The BookBanter Blog

  • Wide-eyed and goosebumped, my sister and I looked at each other and then promptly accused one another of pushing the planchette from letter to letter.

    Varla Ventura: Paranormal Parlor Games

Comments

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  • "This turn toward the veil was largely Darwin's fault. By reducing the rise of man to a process that had more to do with accident than with God, his theories had caused a shock to the faith of late Victorian England. The yawning void of this new 'Darwinian darkness,' as one writer put it, caused some to embrace science as their new religion but turned many others into the arms of Spiritualism and set them seeking concrete proof of an afterlife in the shifting planchettes of Ouija boards. In the mid-1890s Britain had 150 Spiritualist societies; by 1908 there would be nearly 400."

    —Erik Larson, Thunderstruck (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006), 53

    July 7, 2009