Incantations are words spoken during a magical ritual in magic, occultism, and witchcraft for invoking or praising a deity, casting a spell, or manipulation of an object or a person. The term derives from the Latin word incantare, meaning to "chant (a magical spell) upon," from in- "into, upon" and cantare "to sing."
Medieval literature, fairy tales, folklore, and modern fantasy fiction usually depict enchantments (from the Old French enchantement) are charms or spells. The term found its way into the English language around AD 1300 and led to the popularization of the terms enchanter and enchantress, to identify those who use enchantments.
Incantations commonly use repetition, performative language, and a formulaic composition. The earliest incantations in English are difficult to differentiate from the riddles and other short poems of Old English poetry, however, they rely strongly on metaphor, something relatively rare in Anglo-Saxon poetry, but nearly universal to incantations.
Most incantations are metrical in the way they are written. Almost all incantations invoke the aid of a divine being or some other spiritual entity and require some sort of physical action by the reciter in order for the incantation to work.
In traditional fairy tales and fantasy literature, an enchantment is a magical spell that is attached to a specific person, object or location, and alters its qualities, normally in a positive way. One widely-known example being the magic spell that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother cast to turn a pumpkin into a coach. Enchantments with negative characteristics are usually called curses.
Enchantments are also used to describe spells that cause no real effects but deceive people, either by directly affecting their thoughts, using some kind of illusion, or by deceiving them into believing they have experienced a magical transformation. Enchantresses are frequently depicted as being able to employ this kind of magic.