The noun fetish can refer to a sexual fantasy, a fixation in general, or a type of spiritual object historically used by the indigenous people of West Africa. Both of the first two definitions evolved from the latter in the nineteenth century through connotations of "charm" or "sorcery". The term was borrowed from French fetiche, which was borrowed from Portuguese feitiço, also meaning "sorcery". That further derives from the Latin adjective facticius, meaning "artificial", because people who perform magic tricks use artificial means to fool their audience. The root there is the verb facere ("to make"), and it all finally comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction deh, meaning "set" or "put". Usage of the word fetish peaked in 2016 and has been declining since.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.