All Words > Svengali

Sunday, January 5

Svengali

[sfen-GAH-lee]

Part of speech: noun

Origin: English, 1894

1.

A manipulative person with sinister motives

2.

Someone attempting to dominate another to do their bidding

Examples of Svengali in a sentence

"You thought she was your mentor, but she turned into a svengali and tried to keep you from a promotion."

"The business partnership went sour when the investor was revealed to be a svengali. "

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About Svengali

Svengali owes its invention to a literary work. The character Svengali is a proper noun, but anyone can turn into a common noun svengali. Just pull out some manipulative tactics, and you’ll be the next svengali.

Did you Know?

The word svengali comes from the 1894 novel by George du Maurier “Trilby.” In this book, Svengali is a hypnotist who manipulates the title character. This isn’t the book’s only cultural contribution. The narrow-brimmed trilby hat is named after the distinctive hat worn by Trilby.

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