hex, witchcraft or one who works it. The word is of German origin, and beliefs connected with it spread from Europe to the United States, especially to the Pennsylvania Dutch country. The hex can be worked by either sex, but more commonly by a man, usually an amateur or professional hex "doctor." Such a person is thought to be able to control the forces of nature, cure sickness, and thwart the intentions of evildoers by means of magic formulas handed down from the Middle Ages and from Romani (Gypsy) practitioners. The colorful, geometric hex signs found on Pennsylvania Dutch barns are meant to protect the animals within from malicious curses, spells, and the evil eye.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.