This study discusses the word and the concept of charm in canonical literature and in everyday use. The meaning of charm metamorphoses with each appearance over millennia, its sense, pejorative or favorable, deployed to suggest a quality either delightful or entrapping. Its significance in classics old and recent is remarked on classics from Homer to Joyce. It is a vital word in literature and journalism, with its sense and its standing mercurial. Charm is paradoxical: the breaking of its spell can be amusing, as here or as in Voltaire’s Candide, or moving, as in the dissolution of Kate Croy and Merton Densher’s love for each other in The Wings of the Dove or both comical and melancholy as in Marcel’s doomed fascination with Albertine in Proust.