When the word enchant was first used in 1374, it had the figurative meaning of "influence" or "delude". The literal meaning of "put under a spell" actually came about three years later; I think that's an interesting order of things. The term comes from Old French enchanter, which comes from Latin incantare, which had the same definition. Now we can break it apart into the prefix in-, which here meant "upon", and the root cantare, which meant "to sing". The idea there was that sometimes songs can be so beautiful that they enchant you. In- traces to the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction hen, meaning "in", and I've covered cantare before: through Proto-Italic kano, it derives from PIE kehn, meaning "to sing". Incantare is also the etymon of the English word incantation, through Old French incantacion, which meant "spell" or "exorcism".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior 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.