Share this entry

shaman Syllabification: sha·man
Pronunciation: /ˈSHämən/

Definition of shaman in English:

noun (plural shamans)

A person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits, especially among some peoples of northern Asia and North America. Typically such people enter a trance state during a ritual, and practice divination and healing.
Example sentences
  • While performing the ritual, the shaman (witch doctor) dances and enters into a trance.
  • Rituals of traditional belief systems mark life-cycle events or involve propitiation for particular occasions and are led by shamans, spirit mediums, or prayer masters (male or female).
  • Other religious practitioners include spirit mediums and shamans, most of whom are women.
medicine man/woman, healer, kahuna


Late 17th century: from German Schamane and Russian shaman, from Tungus šaman.



Pronunciation: /SHəˈmanik/
Example sentences
  • Indigenous shamanic and animistic practices were, however, never entirely superseded by either religion.
  • There is a strong animistic and shamanic tradition.
  • According to Ewenki shamanic beliefs, the Aobao is regarded as the dwelling of God.


Pronunciation: /-ˌnizəm/
Example sentences
  • The cult of spirits, shamanism, and ancestor worship compose the three major parts of traditional Hmong religion.
  • Confucianism, Taoism, and shamanism have also influenced Japanese religion.
  • He writes about shamanism, paganism, mysticism and feminism, and approaches them all with respect, compassion and mischief.


noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • They were Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Manicheans, pagans, nomads, shamanists, and animists as well, and, ethnically speaking, Seljuks, Khazars, Bulgars, Timurids, Mongols, Anatolians and Chinese.
  • There are scores of ex-Mormons, shamanists, pagans, and atheists meeting up, hoping to find camaraderie.
  • Can it be a good idea to take shamanist ways of working and using them for spiritualist work?


Pronunciation: /ˌSHäməˈnistik/ /ˌSHā-/
Example sentences
  • The oldest Buddhist sect in Tibet, it emphasizes mysticism and incorporates shamanistic practices and local deities borrowed from the pre-Buddhist Bon religion.
  • We hear about pre-Christian religion, pagan beliefs, shamanistic rituals and healing drums, and the story is narrated in ambiguous and multivocal words and concepts.
  • Many areas were not converted to Islam until the eighteenth century, and even then it was by the mystical Sufi branch, who integrated local shamanistic practices with their religion.


Example sentences
  • Protestant Christianity was no exception: It had to be ‘shamanized’ considerably in order to be more agreeable to the religious imagination of the Korean people.

Words that rhyme with shaman

barman, barmen, Brahman, Carman, Carmen, Sharman, Tutankhamen

Definition of shaman in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...