from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act or practice of foretelling the future by drawing lots.
  • n. Sorcery; witchcraft.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Witchcraft, magic, especially as a means of making decisions or predictions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act or practice of drawing lots; divination by drawing lots.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act, practice, or art of drawing lots; interpretation, divination, or decision by lot; hence, loosely, sorcery; magic.


Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin sortilegium, from sortilegus, diviner : Latin sors, sort-, lot; see ser-2 in Indo-European roots + Latin legere, to read; see leg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French sortilège, from mediæval Latin sortilegium, from Latin sortilegus ("sorcerer, diviner"), from sors ("sort") + legere ("choose") (Wiktionary)



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  • From birth to grave we must compete
    So who dare call it fraud or cheat
    If, to gain a mortal edge,
    Some resort to sortilege?
    For life's a race we can't repeat.

    September 4, 2014

  • It was with a sort of apprehension that Renouard looked forward to seeing Miss Moorsom. And strangely enough it resembled the state of mind of a man who fears disenchantment more than sortilege.

    - Conrad, The Planter of Malata

    March 5, 2009