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]
mid-14c., "one who casts spells;" 1670s as "one who has the power of fascinating," agent noun from charm (v.).
beautiful enchantress of the isle of Aea who transformed into swine those who drank from her cup ("Odyssey"), late 14c., from Latin Circe, from Greek Kirke. Related: Circean "fascinating but depraving" (1640s).
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.
early 15c., "nut-like," from nut (n.) + -y (2); from 1660s as "abounding in nuts." Sense of "having the flavor of nuts" is by 1828. Slang meaning "crazy" is by 1898 (see nuts); earlier colloquial sense was "amorous, in love (with)," 1821. [Byron, in a slangy passage in "Don Juan" (1823) uses it of a beggar's doxy; a footnote defines it as "conjointly, amorous and fascinating."] Related: Nuttiness.