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Definition of Shaman

(noun) A religious specialist with direct access and influence over supernatural power that typically uses magic or sorcery for controlling the environment, divination or healing purposes.

Example of Shaman

Shaman Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /ˈʃɑmən/
      • /ˈʃeɪmən/
    • British English
      • /ˈʃɑːmən/
      • /ˈʃamən/
      • /ˈʃeɪmən/
  • Syllabification: (sha·man)

Usage Notes

  • Plural: shamans
  • The difference between a shaman and a priest is that a shaman’s role is often performed part time and with direct access or control of supernatural power and a priest’s role is often full time, but lacking direct control over supernatural power, acting only as an intermediary.
  • The roles of shamans and specific names for shamans (e.g., medicine man) change according to culture and society, thus a single definition cannot capture the continuum of shamans or shamanism.
  • Also called:
    • medicine man (medicine-man) or medicine woman (medicine-woman).
    • priest doctor (priest-doctor)
    • witch doctor (witch-doctor)
  • A (noun) shaman practices or (verb) shamanizes (noun) shamanism using (adjective) shamanic methods.

Additional Information

Related Terms

Cite the Definition of Shaman

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “shaman.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved September 21, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/shaman/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

shaman. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/shaman/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “shaman.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed September 21, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/shaman/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“shaman.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 21 Sep. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/shaman/>.