• voodoo •
vu-du • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. A religion practiced chiefly in Haiti and Louisiana, brought over by slaves from Dahomey, now called Benin. It is focused on the snake deity, Zombi, other deities, and dead ancestors. These are contacted via trances that are often brought on by drugs, passionate dancing, or a combination of both. 2. Magic spells and charms that adherents of voodoo believe convey magic powers over the living, the dead, and the undead (entranced zombies). 3. Wildly deceptive or delusive fakery.
Notes: Voodoo is generally perceived in the West as an exotic form of sorcery and magic, but it remains a religion in Haiti and a few other Caribbean countries. The practice or belief in voodoo is voodooism, which opens the door for voodooist, a believer in voodoo or practitioner thereof.
In Play: Today voodoo is associated with spells and witchcraft: "I think my wife put some sort of voodoo spell on me so that every time I start to speak with a beautiful woman, I begin to stutter." Metaphorically, it is the trademark of utter unreliability: "Al Garithem tried to prove his point with some voodoo statistics that he picked up on the Web, but everyone in the audience could see right through them."
Word History: Today's rather scary word came from Louisiana French voudou imported from Haitian Creole vodoun. The original word was vodun from the Fon language. Fon was spoken in former Dahomey and was brought to Haiti along with the religion by West African slaves. Later the religion spread to southern Louisiana, where the word for it became voodoo with its current meaning. (Today we thank N. J. Olson for suggesting this charming, enchanting, positively spellbinding Good Word.)
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