General English


  • noun a state like sleep, but caused artificially, where a person can remember forgotten events in the past and will do whatever the hypnotist tells him or her to do

Origin & History of “hypnosis”

Húpnos was Greek for ‘sleep’. from it was derived the adjective hūpnotikós ‘sleepy, narcotic’, which English acquired via Latin and French as hypnotic (17th c.). At first this was used only with reference to sleep-inducing drugs, but then in the late 18th and early 19th centuries the techniques of inducing deep sleep or trance by suggestion were developed. Early terms for the procedure included animal magnetism and mesmerism (see (mesmerize)), and then in 1842 Dr James braid coined neuro-hypnotism for what he called the ‘condition of nervous sleep’. By the end of the 1840s this had become simply hypnotism. Hypnosis was coined in the 1870s as an alternative, on the model of a hypothetical Greek *hypnosis.