late 14c., literal ("practice sorcery or witchcraft on") and figurative ("delight in a high degree, charm, fascinate"), from Old French enchanter "bewitch, charm, cast a spell" (12c.), from Latin incantare "to enchant, fix a spell upon," from in- "upon, into" (from PIE root *en "in") + cantare "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing"). Or perhaps a back-formation from enchantment.
1590s, "having magical power," present-participle adjective from enchant (v.). Meaning "delightful to the mind or sense" is from 1712. Related: Enchantingly.
"one who enchants or practices enchantment, a sorcerer or magician;" also "one who charms or delights," c. 1300, enchauntour, agent noun from enchant, or from Old French enchanteor "magician; singer; mountebank," from Latin incantator.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to sing."
It forms all or part of: accent; cant (n.1); cantabile; cantata; cantatrice; canticle; canto; cantor; canzone; Carmen; chanson; chant; chanter; chanteuse; chanty; chanticleer; charm; concent; descant; enchant; enchantment; hen; incantation; incentive; oscine; precentor; recant.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek eikanos "cock," literally "bird who sings (for sunrise);" Latin cantare, canere "to sing;" Old Irish caniaid "sings," Welsh canu "sing;" Old English hana "cock."
1590s, "bewitch, enchant," from French fasciner (14c.), from Latin fascinatus, past participle of fascinare "bewitch, enchant, fascinate," from fascinus "a charm, enchantment, spell, witchcraft," which is of uncertain origin. Earliest used of witches and of serpents, who were said to be able to cast a spell by a look that rendered one unable to move or resist. Sense of "delight, attract and hold the attention of" is first recorded 1815.
To fascinate is to bring under a spell, as by the power of the eye; to enchant and to charm are to bring under a spell by some more subtle and mysterious power. This difference in the literal affects also the figurative senses. [Century Dictionary]
Possibly from Greek baskanos "slander, envy, malice," later "witchcraft, sorcerery," with form influenced by Latin fari "speak" (see fame (n.)), but others say the resemblance of the Latin and Greek words is accidental. The Greek word might be from a Thracian equivalent of Greek phaskein "to say;" compare enchant, and German besprechen "to charm," from sprechen "to speak." Watkins suggests the Latin word is perhaps from PIE *bhasko- "band, bundle" via a connecting sense of "amulet in the form of a phallus" (compare Latin fascinum "human penis; artificial phallus; dildo"). Related: Fascinated; fascinating.
If [baskanos] and fascinum are indeed related, they would point to a meaning 'curse, spell' in a loanword from an unknown third language. [de Vaan]
c. 1600, "act of bewitching," from Latin fascinationem (nominative fascinatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of fascinare "bewitch, enchant" (see fascinate). Meaning "state of being fascinated" is from 1650s; that of "fascinating quality, attractive influence upon the attention" is from 1690s.