This is a definition of the word "witchery" from the Oxford Languages dictionary.

compelling power exercised by beauty, eloquence, or other attractive or fascinating qualities

a. To make active use of; employ, apply, or exert: *exercise restraint; exercise control. *(source: American Heritage® Dictionary)

I knew this definition for exercise but I didn't know beauty could exercise power because beauty is an abstract concept and not a person and I thought this definition only extended to people. Was I wrong?

  • Why is the title about 'extend', which does not appear in your question? Sep 27, 2022 at 20:24
  • 2
    Beauty, eloquence, and other attractive qualities are possessed by people, are they not? And they can give those people power, can't they? Sep 27, 2022 at 20:27
  • Are you unfamiliar with being bewitched by someone's beauty?
    – Davo
    Oct 14, 2022 at 15:43
  • No, I'm not familiar with the word "exercise" used in this way and apparently I've had good reasons for it. Read the entire post with the answer if you want to know why:) Oct 15, 2022 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


That's a weak definition from Oxford.

Abstract concepts like beauty and eloquence themselves cannot exercise a compelling power because exercising a power is a deliberate, wilful action, and outside poetic senses, "beauty" cannot take deliberate actions. They can be used to exercise power, but that's not what it says, and a dictionary should be more precise.

It would be more accurate if it said, "...exercised using one's beauty...".

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