1. One who practices the black art, or magic; one regarded as possessing supernatural or magical power by compact with an evil spirit, especially. With the Devil; a sorcerer or sorceress; now applied chiefly or only to women, but formerly used of men as well. "There was a man in that city whose name was Simon, a witch." (Wyclif (Acts viii. 9)) "He can not abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch." (Shak)

2. An ugly old woman; a hag.

3. One who exercises more than common power of attraction; a charming or bewitching person; also, one given to mischief; said especially of a woman or child.

4. <geometry> A certain curve of the third order, described by Maria Agnesi under the name versiera.

5. <zoology> The stormy petrel. Witch balls, a name applied to the interwoven rolling masses of the stems of herbs, which are driven by the winds over the steppes of Tartary. Cf. Tumbleweed.

6. <botany> Witches' besoms, vegetable sulphur. See Vegetable.

Origin: OE. Wicche, AS. Wicce, fem, wicca, masc.; perhaps the same word as AS. Witiga, witga, a soothsayer (cf. Wiseacre); cf. Fries. Wikke, a witch, LG. Wikken to predict, Icel. Vitki a wizard, vitka to bewitch.

(01 Mar 1998)

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