19th century book of incantations, written by a Welsh physician

An incantation, enchantment, or magic spell is a set of words, spoken or unspoken, which are considered by its user to invoke some magical effect. An incantation may take place during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer, and may invoke or praise a deity. In magic, occultism, shamanism, and witchcraft it is used with the intention of casting a spell on an object or a person. The term derives from Latin "incantare" (tr.), meaning "to chant (a magical spell) upon," from in- "into, upon" and cantare "to sing".

In medieval literature, folklore, fairy tales and modern fantasy fiction, enchantments (from the Old French "enchantement") are charms or spells. The term was loaned into English since around AD 1300. The corresponding native English term being "galdr" "song, spell". It has led to the terms "enchanter" and "enchantress", for those who use enchantments.

The weakened sense "delight" (compare the same development of "charm") is modern, first attested in 1593 (OED).

Surviving written records of historical magic spells were largely obliterated in many cultures by the success of the major monotheistic religions, Hinduism Islam, Judaism and Christianity, which label some magical activity as immoral or associated with evil.[1]

In folklore and fiction

The enchantress Alcina makes herself appear beautiful, in Orlando Furioso

In traditional fairy tales or fantasy fiction, an enchantment is a magical spell that is attached, on a relatively permanent basis, to a specific person, object or location, and alters its qualities, generally in a positive way. A widely known example is the spell that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother uses to turn a pumpkin into a coach. An enchantment with negative characteristics is usually instead referred to as a curse.

Conversely, enchantments are also used to describe spells that cause no real effects but deceive people, either by directly affecting their thoughts or using some kind of illusions. Enchantresses are frequently depicted as able to seduce by such magic. Other forms include deceiving people into believing that they have suffered a magical transformation.

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Arpağ
башҡортса: Һамаҡ
brezhoneg: Orezon
català: Encanteri
čeština: Zaříkávání
Deutsch: Zauberspruch
eesti: Loits
Esperanto: Ensorĉo
français: Incantation
italiano: Incantesimo
עברית: לחש
Nederlands: Toverspreuk
олык марий: Ю
русский: Заклинание
suomi: Loitsu
Türkçe: Arpağ
中文: 咒语