AskDefine | Define fetishism

Dictionary Definition



1 a belief in the magical power of fetishes (or the worship of a fetish) [syn: fetichism]
2 sexual arousal or gratification resulting from handling a fetish (or a specific part of the body other than the sexual organs) [syn: fetichism]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the belief that natural objects have supernatural powers, or that something created by people has power over people.
  2. a form of paraphilia where the object of attraction is an inanimate object or a part of a person's body.


  • Croatian: fetišizam
  • German: Fetischismus

Extensive Definition

This article concerns the concept of fetishism in anthropology. For other uses see Fetish (disambiguation).
A fetish (from French fétiche; from Portuguese feitiço; from Latin facticius, "artificial" and facere, "to make") is an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular a man-made object that has power over others. Essentially, fetishism is the attribution of inherent value or powers to an object.


The concept was coined by Charles de Brosses in 1757, while comparing West African religion to the magical aspects of Ancient Egyptian religion. Later, Auguste Comte used the concept to apply an evolution theory to religion. In Compte's theory of the evolution of religion, he proposed that fetishism is the earliest (most primitive) stage, followed by the stages of polytheism and monotheism.
In the end, some artifacts certain monotheist religions (Holy Cross, Consecrated Hosts, etc.) use for their rites are other incarnation of fetishism. However, this vision is denied by monotheist practitioners. In the 19th century, Tylor and McLennan held that the concept of fetishism allowed historians of religion to shift attention from the relationship between people and God to the relationship between people and material objects. They also held that it established models of causal explanations of natural events which they considered false as a central problem in history and sociology.


Theoretically, fetishism is present in all religions, but its use in the study of religion is derived from studies of traditional West African religious beliefs, as well as Voodoo, which is derived from those beliefs.
Blood is often considered a particularly powerful fetish or ingredient in fetishes. In addition to blood, other objects and substances, such as bones, fur, claws, feathers, water from certain places, certain types of plants and wood are common fetishes in the traditions of cultures worldwide.

Other uses of the term "fetishism"

  • In the 19th century Karl Marx appropriated the term to describe commodity fetishism as an important component of capitalism. Nowadays, (commodity and capital) fetishism is a central concept of marxism
  • Later Sigmund Freud appropriated the concept to describe a form of paraphilia where the object of affection is an inanimate object or a specific part of a person; see sexual fetish.

See also

External links

fetishism in Arabic: ماسوشية
fetishism in Catalan: Fetitxisme
fetishism in Czech: Náboženský fetišismus
fetishism in Danish: Fetich
fetishism in German: Fetischismus
fetishism in Modern Greek (1453-): Φετιχισμός
fetishism in Spanish: Fetichismo
fetishism in Persian: شیء‌پرستی
fetishism in Finnish: Fetisismi
fetishism in French: Fétichisme
fetishism in Western Frisian: Fetisj
fetishism in Croatian: Fetišizam
fetishism in Italian: Feticismo
fetishism in Hebrew: פטישיזם
fetishism in Dutch: Fetisjisme
fetishism in Norwegian: Fetisj (religion)
fetishism in Japanese: 呪物崇拝
fetishism in Polish: Religie pierwotne
fetishism in Portuguese: Fetiche
fetishism in Ukrainian: Фетишизм

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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