Sven·ga·li (svĕn-gälē, sfĕn-)
n. pl. Sven·ga·lis
A person who manipulates or controls another, especially by force of personality for malicious purposes.
[After Svengali, the hypnotist villain in the novel Trilby by George du Maurier.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.