- an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.
- any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion: to make a fetish of high grades.
- Psychology. any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.
- something, esp an inanimate object, that is believed in certain cultures to be the embodiment or habitation of a spirit or magical powers
- a form of behaviour involving fetishism
- any object that is involved in fetishism
- any object, activity, etc, to which one is excessively or irrationally devotedto make a fetish of cleanliness
1610s, fatisso, from Portuguese feitiço “charm, sorcery,” from Latin facticius “made by art,” from facere “to make” (see factitious).
Latin facticius in Spanish has become hechizo “magic, witchcraft, sorcery.” Probably introduced by Portuguese sailors and traders as a name for charms and talismans worshipped by the inhabitants of the Guinea coast of Africa. Popularized in anthropology by C. de Brosses’ “Le Culte des Dieux Fétiches” (1760), which influenced the word’s spelling in English (French fétiche, also from the Portuguese word). Figurative sense of “something irrationally revered” is American English, 1837.
Any material image of a religious idea is an idol; a material object in which force is supposed to be concentrated is a Fetish; a material object, or a class of material objects, plants, or animals, which is regarded by man with superstitious respect, and between whom and man there is supposed to exist an invisible but effective force, is a Totem. [J. Fitzgerald Lee, “The Greater Exodus,” London, 1903]
For sexual sense, see fetishism.
- Something, such as an object or nonsexual part of the body, that arouses sexual desire and may become necessary for sexual gratification.
- An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment.