witchdoctor, noun

Origin:
EnglishShow more An application of the older (now obsolete) general English witchdoctor ‘one who professes to cure disease and to counteract witchcraft by magic arts’ (OED).
A traditional African healer or diviner, especially one dealing with afflictions thought to be caused by spirit possession or witchcraft; one dealing with physical ailments, a herbalist; one casting either good or evil spells, a sorcerer. See also doctor sense 1 a, Esemkofu, gogo noun1, herbalist, igqira noun2, igqwira, inyanga sense 1, isanusi, itola, ixhwele, moloi, ngaka, sangoma, to smell out (smell), tagati noun, to throw (the) bones (throw sense 2).
Note:
Now used also in general English. The term has been applied to persons of both benevolent and malevolent intent and actions; as a result, and because ‘witchdoctor’ has acquired derogatory connotations, anthropologists now prefer the terms ‘diviner’ and ‘traditional healer’ for those whose intentions are benevolent.
[1731 G. Medley tr. of P. Kolben’s Present State of Cape of G.H. I. 138They believe that it is in the Power of their Wizzards or Witches to lay a Spirit, and for ever prevent its Appearing or being troublesome.]
1992 [see Natal Witness quot. at sangoma].
A traditional African healer or diviner, especially one dealing with afflictions thought to be caused by spirit possession or witchcraft; one dealing with physical ailments, a herbalist; one casting either good or evil spells, a sorcerer.
Derivatives:
Hence witchdoctoring verbal noun, witch doctress noun phrase.
1912 Ayliff & Whiteside Hist. of Abambo 65The Gcalekas appeared led by a famous witch doctress.
1982 Pace Feb. 13Father Alfred Dlamini, of Peddie, where the six youths died said: ‘...Any ministry which goes with witchdoctoring or sorcery is not the healing ministry of the Lord.’

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17311990