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mumbo jumbo

[muhm-boh juhm-boh] /ˈmʌm boʊ ˈdʒʌm boʊ/
noun, plural mumbo jumbos.
meaningless incantation or ritual.
senseless or pretentious language, usually designed to obscure an issue, confuse a listener, or the like.
an object of superstitious awe or reverence.
(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 of mumbo jumbo
1730-40; of disputed orig. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for mumbo-jumbo
Historical Examples
  • No mumbo-jumbo of superstition, no awe of strangers who had suddenly descended upon them from the sky.

    Impact Irving E. Cox
  • Full of mumbo-jumbo about "inner-directed" and "outer-directed" personalities.

    This Crowded Earth Robert Bloch
  • We fulfil those demands to a certain extent, but we do not make a mumbo-jumbo of them.

    The Rubicon E. F. Benson
  • "Every society has its mumbo-jumbo to keep it in order," said Arkwright.

  • Comes the alarm crash of the Sanctus thrice repeated, the mumbo-jumbo of fast-gabbled Latin, the exultant organ.

    The Challenge of the Dead Stephen Graham
  • Then that must have been a masquerade, that other time—all that mumbo-jumbo with the Anagrams.

  • They may fill the interval with hoodoo rites, caste divisions or mumbo-jumbo worship, as they please.

  • Ive no use for your mumbo-jumbo trickery and Manchester morality.

    John Brown Captain R. W. Campbell
  • Pauline actually believed in her religion, believed in it to the extent of dishonoring their love to appease the mumbo-jumbo.

    Plashers Mead Compton Mackenzie
British Dictionary definitions for mumbo-jumbo

mumbo jumbo

noun (pl) mumbo jumbos
foolish religious reverence, ritual, or incantation
meaningless or unnecessarily complicated language
an object of superstitious awe or reverence
Word Origin
C18: probably from Mandingo mama dyumbo, name of a tribal god
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mumbo-jumbo

mumbo jumbo


1738, name of an idol supposedly worshipped by certain tribes in Africa; said to be a corruption of words in Mandingo (one reconstructed 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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