Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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(1,754 words)

Charm comes into English via French from Latin carmen (“song,” “poem,” “incantation”), which is linked with canere (“sing,” “recite,” “say in a sing-song voice”) and cantare (“sing,” “declaim,” “chant”). The Latin words refer to chanting or speaking words rhythmically, and hence to the recitation of verse, and then to singing. In essence, therefore, a charm is a verbal utterance spoken in a sing-song fashion and is intended to have a magical effect, …

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Maxwell-Stuart, Peter, “Charm”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 01 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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