Definition of exorcism in US English:



  • The expulsion or attempted expulsion of a supposed evil spirit from a person or place.

    ‘the rite of exorcism’
    count noun figurative ‘an exorcism of the authoritarian past’
    • ‘Amazingly no one was killed, and the parish priest then led the children and adults of the village in a kind of exorcism, imitating the noises of the helicopters.’
    • ‘Through this divinely-sponsored exorcism, the infant survives to lead the family out of darkness into the light.’
    • ‘Two things are worth noting, apart from the obvious one that this man believes without any irony that the cure for unbelief is exorcism.’
    • ‘Attempts at exorcism have been both incredibly painful and unsuccessful.’
    • ‘He will insist otherwise, but today is an opportunity for exorcism.’
    • ‘The first section, dealing with Mesopotamian magic, stresses the similarities to modern European rituals of healing and exorcism.’
    • ‘She read a ceremony of exorcism over the ten-year-old boy, and she and Brando prayed.’
    • ‘Solemn exorcism is an extremely unusual step to take and can only be done after every other possibility, including mental illness, has been discounted.’
    • ‘Similarly, there are other rituals outside their sphere of activity, such as the propitiation or exorcism of dangerous spirits.’
    • ‘One was an attempt at exorcism, the other a rather more practical if overly melodramatic way of making the pain go away.’
    • ‘In actual fact, I think it was more an attempt at personal exorcism.’
    • ‘The renovation, so long resisted by mother, was meant to be an act of vengeance, assertion and exorcism, but it only seems to stir up memories.’
    • ‘Some viewers and critics wanted exorcism and purification through some sort of commentary or strictly objective stance.’
    • ‘The Salpuri dance, which is the last ritual process in the Korean shamanist exorcism known as Kut, will also be performed on the occasion.’
    • ‘Thereafter, formal rituals of exorcism were adopted by the Church throughout the medieval centuries.’
    • ‘She did suffer a lot of physical and emotional pain, but putting it on canvas was a form of exorcism, and she did it with a dark sense of humour.’
    • ‘Once he regains his senses somewhat he goes ‘through all the exorcisms against evil spirits’ and descends back to earth.’
    • ‘It has been a kind of exorcism, and in telling the most personal story you hope to reach people.’
    • ‘This conveys power to practise the gifts of the Spirit: speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, exorcism.’
    • ‘Rituals like this of purification and exorcism are a traditional feature of Shinto.’
    driving out, casting out, expulsion
    catharsis, cleansing, purification, purgation, release, deliverance
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: via ecclesiastical Latin from ecclesiastical Greek exorkismos, from exorkizein ‘exorcize’.