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A.Word.A.Day--mumbo jumbo

Pronunciation RealAudio

mumbo jumbo (MUM-bo JUM-bo) noun

1. Meaningless, unintelligible, complicated, or confusing language.

2. Complicated language or jargon used in order to confuse.

3. An object believed to possess supernatural powers.

[Or uncertain origin, probably from Mandingo, a group of Mande languages in western Africa.]

"Greenland's government, in office for only 37 days, fell apart because of its civil service chief's penchant for what some politicians called witch-doctoring, some mumbo jumbo and others 'plain exorcism'."
Andrew Osborn; 'Cleansed' Greenland Cabinet Falls; The Guardian (London, UK); Jan 11, 2003.

"The master of ceremonies recites some ritual words, and then Taylor launches into some mumbo-jumbo: 'Consider the great luminary of nature, which, rising in the east ...'"
Peter Carlson; Fezzes, Sphinxes and Secret Handshakes; The Washington Post; Nov 25, 2001.

This week's theme: words borrowed from African languages.


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