religious witchcraft of Haiti and Southern U.S., ult. of African origin, 1850, from Louisiana Fr. voudou, from a W.African language (e.g. Ewe and Fon vodu "spirit, demon, deity," also Vandoo, supposedly the name of an African deity, from a language of Dahomey). Cf. vodun "fetish connected with snake worship in Dahomey," said to be from vo "to be afraid," or vo "harmful." The verb is attested from 1880.
A form of animism involving trances and other rituals. Communication with the dead is a principal feature of voodoo. It is most common in the nations of the Caribbean Sea, especially Haiti, where people sometimes mingle voodoo and Christian practices.