mumbo jumbo

mumbo jumbo

[muhm-boh juhm-boh]
noun, plural mumbo jumbos.
1.
meaningless incantation or ritual.
2.
senseless or pretentious language, usually designed to obscure an issue, confuse a listener, or the like.
3.
an object of superstitious awe or reverence.
4.
(initial capital letters) the guardian of western Sudan villages symbolized by a masked man who combats evil and punishes women for breaches of tribal laws.

Origin:
1730–40; of disputed orig.

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World English Dictionary
mumbo jumbo (ˈmʌmbəʊ)
 
n , pl mumbo jumbos
1.  foolish religious reverence, ritual, or incantation
2.  meaningless or unnecessarily complicated language
3.  an object of superstitious awe or reverence
 
[C18: probably from Mandingo mama dyumbo, name of a tribal god]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

mumbo jumbo
1738, name of an idol supposedly worshipped by certain tribes in Africa; said to be a corruption of words in Mandingo (one version is Mama Dyumbo), but no likely source has been found in the languages of the Niger region, to which the original accounts relate. Meaning "big, empty talk" is attested from
1896.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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