Stories of witches have been around throughout history.
In popular culture, they’ve been portrayed as everything from evil, green-faced women (“The Wizard of Oz”) to suburban housewives (“Bewitched”) to teens with special powers (“The Craft”).
Early witches were often fearfully regarded as practitioners of “dark” magic, but many were simply natural healers or had spiritual beliefs outside of Christianity.
Such misunderstandings led to witch hunts like Massachusetts’ Salem witch trials in the 1690s.
Today, witches are still somewhat misunderstood but have found less fear and more acceptance over time.
Many young people associate witchcraft with free thought and a connection with nature.
Below, we list the words associated with witches, including explanations. Scroll past the list to find out about famous witches in popular culture.
supernatural, mystical, and magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena
practicing magic and/or pagan traditions
a gathering of witches
religion combining elements of Roman Catholic ritual and African religious rites; often involves sorcery or spiritual possession
Greek goddess presiding over magic and spells
religious practice inspired by pre-Christian traditions; often involves witchcraft and a reverence for nature
a man who practices witchcraft
searching for and persecuting witches
an object that brings good luck; often a ring or stone with an inscription
meeting of witches
leader of a coven
words used to bring about magic
a religion primarily found in parts of the Caribbean and the southern U.S. that involves sorcery and spirit possession
transforming, creating, or combining materials; a medieval precursor to the science of chemistry
large iron kettle used for preparing brews, potions, and Sabbat feasts
a magical time when the barrier between worlds opens, allowing mystical beings to cross; often thought to be between midnight and 3 a.m.
a stone charm that wards off bad luck
a village in colonial Massachusetts where thirty people were found guilty of witchcraft in the late 1600s
a “familiar spirit,” or animal connected that will obey a witch
a table, bench, stump, or rock where a witch places her materials while practicing her craft
an investigation to uncover the practice of witchcraft and punish its practitioners
someone who holds religious beliefs outside of the major world religions
influencing events through supernatural forces and practices
the use of magic
conducting rituals to call upon spirits
festival marking the beginning of winter
an ornament or piece of jewelry that gives protection
something that brings good luck
a man with magic powers
invoking supernatural powers to inflict punishment
words spoken as a magic spell or charm
seeking knowledge of the future through supernatural forces
predicting a future event
a magic spell or curse
a person who conjures
Spanish word for a witch or a woman with knowledge of folk magic
invoking evil spirits or using magic for malicious purposes
someone who performs incantations
using a crystal ball or other reflective object to see the future
an enchantress in Greek mythology
household tool for sweeping that a witch can use to fly to Sabbat
a person who claims to have magic powers
to put someone under a spell
a meeting of witches on May Day’s eve in German folklore
a drawstring pouch worn around the neck or waist that contains herbs, gemstones, or other objects
forces beyond scientific understanding or the known laws of nature
making a pledge by shaking or joining hands; sometimes used in place of “wedding” or “marriage”
branches cut from sacred trees and used in some rituals or practices by witches
words used by a person performing magic
three “grey witch” sisters in Greek mythology
ancient May Day festival celebrating the springtime
a shortening of “witchcraft”; also the name of an iconic 1996 film about teenage witches
a spell to bring bad luck upon others
the practice of tying a person’s hands and feet and throwing them into a pond or river to find out whether they were a witch
communication with the dead through sorcery
a woman using magic or sorcery to put someone or something under a spell
to cast a spell over someone
Famous Witches in Popular Culture
Interested to know more about how popular culture has portrayed witches over time?
We’ve gathered some of the most famous examples below!
- “American Horror Story: Coven” is a TV series following a group of witches in New Orleans, also featuring flashbacks to the Salem witch trials.
- “Charmed” (premiering in 1998 and rebooted in 2018) is a TV series following three sisters — Prue, Piper, and Phoebe — who are powerful good witches.
- “The Chronicles of Narnia” features several witch characters, including Jadis (the White Witch) as the antagonist of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
- The 1996 film “The Craft” follows four high school outcasts who become interested in witchcraft.
- Hermione Granger is one of many witches-in-training at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in “Harry Potter.” She’s known for her quick wit and encyclopedic knowledge of magic.
- “Hocus Pocus” is an iconic 1993 Disney film following the Sanderson sisters, three witches accidentally resurrected by a teenager in Salem on Halloween night.
- The British fantasy drama “Merlin” follows the warlock of the same name from Arthurian legend.
- “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” is a comic book series following a young half-witch, Sabrina Spellman, who lives with her witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda Spellman. It’s been adapted into several animated series, films, and live-action TV series.
- L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” features the good witches of the north and south and the wicked witches of the east and west. While the Wicked Witch of the West was unnamed in the original book, she was later given the name Elphaba and a rich backstory in “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire.