1801, "worship of fetishes," from fetish + -ism. Expanded in use by Comte taking it to denote a general type of primitive religion (animism). In the purely psycho-sexual sense, first recorded 1897 in writings of Henry Havelock Ellis (1859-1939).
In certain perversions of the sexual instinct, the person, part of the body, or particular object belonging to the person by whom the impulse is excited, is called the fetish of the patient. [E. Morselli in "Baldwin Dictionary of Philosophy," 1901]
Related: Fetishist (1845; psycho-sexual sense from 1897); fetishistic.
updated on September 25, 2018