1. a person believed to have magic power: sorceress
2. an ugly old woman: hag
3. a charming or alluring girl or woman

The Merriam Webster Dictionary

 According to sixteenth-century English lawyer William West:

“ A witch or a hag is she which being deluded by a league made with the devil through his persuasion, inspiration or juggling, thinketh she can design what manner or evil things soever, either by thought or imprecation, as to shake the air with lightnings and thunder, to cause hail and tempests, to remove green corn or trees to another place, to be carried of her familiar (which hath taken upon him the deceitful shape of a goat, swine, or calf, etc.) into some mountain far distant, in a wonderful short space of time, and sometime to fly upon a staff or fork, or some other instrument, and to show a thousand such monstrous mockeries.”


Witch comes from the Anglo-Saxon wicce (meaning witch), which in turn derives from an Indo-European root word meaning to bend or change or do magic/religion (making it related to wicker, wiggle, and even vicar). It is possibly also related to the Old Norse vitki (meaning wizard), derived from root words meaning wise one or seer. Warlock (rarely used, for male Witches) is from the Old Norse varðlokkur, spirit song (not oath-breaker).

Translations and other names

  • hexe, häxen, hexse, hess, hächse, hezze (german)
  • hag (english)
  • heks (dutch)
  • sorcière (french)
  • stregha, erbaria (italian)
  • bruja (spanish)
  • bruxa (portugese)