- to drive (an evil spirit or spirits) out or away by ritual prayers, incantations, etc.
- Rare to adjure (such a spirit or spirits)
- to free from such a spirit or spirits
Origin of exorciseMiddle English exorcisen ; from Ecclesiastical Late Latin exorcizare ; from Classical Greek exorkizein, to swear a person (in New Testament , to banish an evil spirit) ; from ex-, out + horkizein, to make one swear ; from horkos, an oath, akin to horkan?, enclosure, herkos, fence, probably ; from Indo-European base an unverified form ser-, wickerwork from source Classical Latin sarcire, to patch
transitive verbex·or·cised, ex·or·cis·ing, ex·or·cis·es
- a. To expel (an evil spirit), as by incantation, command, or prayer.b. To eliminate or suppress (a malign influence or negative feeling, for example): “the man most Americans now loved to like as they exorcised the defeatist spirit of the 1960s” (Gil Troy).
- To free from or rid of an evil spirit, malign influence, or other harmful factor: “Kaiser Wilhelm II's puritanical wife &ellipsis; sent her personal chaplain to exorcise the palace rooms Leopold had been staying in” (Adam Hochschild).
Origin of exorciseMiddle English exorcisen, from Late Latin exorcizare, from Greek exorkizein : ex-, out of; see exo– + horkizein, to make one swear (from horkos, oath).
(third-person singular simple present exorcises, present participle exorcising, simple past and past participle exorcised)
Unlike most verbs using the -ise/-ize suffix, exorcise is more commonly spelled with -s- even in American English.
From Old French exorciser, from Late Latin exorcizāre, from Ancient Greek ἐξορκίζειν (eksorkizein, “banish an evil spirit; bind by oath”).