"Double, double toil and trouble / Fire burn, and cauldron bubble." These lines, cackled by the Weird Sisters in Shakespeare's Macbeth, are part of the most famous incantation — or magic spell made of words — in English literature.

Incantation shares a Latin source with enchant, both of which are related to chant. An incantation, then, summons a thing or action into being with words that are sung, spoken, or written. Long before it became the catchword of stage magicians, abracadabra was regarded as a powerful incantation capable of warding off serious disease. The phrase hocus pocus may be a corruption of a seventeenth-century incantation spoken during the Roman Catholic liturgy of the Eucharist, "hoc est corpus meum" ("this is my body").

Definitions of incantation
  1. noun
    a ritual recitation of words or sounds believed to have a magical effect
    synonyms: conjuration
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    an incantation used in conjuring or summoning a devil
    type of:
    charm, magic spell, magical spell, spell
    a verbal formula believed to have magical force
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