1. Ritual recitation of verbal charms or spells to produce a magic effect.
a. A formula used in ritual recitation; a verbal charm or spell.
b. A conventionalized utterance repeated without thought or aptness; a formula: the pious incantations of the administration.
[Middle English incantacioun, from Old French incantation, from Late Latin incantātiō, incantātiōn-, spell, from Latin incantātus, past participle of incantāre, to enchant; see ENCHANT.]
in·canta·to′ry (-tə-tôr′ē) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.