The word charisma today is seen either as a score in D&D or the ability to charm others, depending on your audience and circumstance. But neither of these interpretations match that of the original definition when the word was borrowed into the English language in 1875: charisma used to refer to a power or characteristic specifically given to someone from God. By the 1930s this evolved into a meaning of "the ability to lead", which was slightly broadened later into "personal charm" across the board. Ultimately, the word is a Latinized variation of Greek kharisma, which meant "gift of grace". This in turn boils down into kharis, "grace". Now, the origin of this isn't a hundred percent certain, but etymologists believe that it's related to the Ancient Greek verb khairein, which meant "to be happy". If true, we can trace kharis thruough Proto-Hellenic to the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction ger, "to yearn for".
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.