Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Charisma

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is charisma. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Charisma means “a special magnetic charm or appeal.” A person with charisma is captivating and often admired. 

// The young singer had the kind of charisma that turns a performer into a star.

CHARISMA in Context

“David Ortiz has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot with 77.9% of the vote. He put up huge numbers at the plate, and Big Papi proved to be a larger-than-life presence off the diamond as well, with a boundless charisma that affected teammates and opponents alike.” — ESPN.com, 24 July 2022

Did You Know?

The Greek word charisma means “favor” or “gift.” It comes from the verb charizesthai (“to favor”), which in turn comes from the noun charis, meaning “grace.” In English, charisma was originally used in Christian contexts to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church—a sense that is now very rare. These days, we use the word to refer to social, rather than divine, grace. For instance, a leader with charisma may easily gain popular support, and a job applicant with charisma may shine in an interview.

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