Word for Wednesday: Witch

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for October is Halloween.

The word Halloween likely dates to the seventeenth century but was popularised in the Burns poem ‘Halloween’ which was written in 1785. It is a Scottish abbreviation of ‘Allhallow-even’ which means ‘Eve of the All Saints’.  ‘Hallow’ means ‘holy person’ or ‘saint’. 

Our first word for the month is witch.

A witch is a (usually female) being who practises sorcery or magic known as witchcraft.

In medieval and early modern Europe, witches were thought to have supernatural powers from communing with the devil and other evil beings which they used to harm the communities they lived in. In witch hunts, women (and sometimes men) suspected of being witches were prosecuted and executed.

Today, the word witch is more commonly associated with the pagan religion Wicca and with the fantasy genre.

The word comes from the Old Englisj ‘wicce’ meaning ‘female magician’ or ‘sorceress’. In later use, the word shifted in meaning to describe 'a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil and perform supernatural acts’. ‘Wicce’ is the feminine form of the Old English ‘wicca’ which means ‘sorcerer’ or ‘wizard’ and comes from the verb ‘wiccian’ meaning ‘to practise witchcraft’.

05 Oct 2022
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