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obeah

[oh-bee-uh]
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noun
  1. a form of belief involving sorcery, practiced in parts of the West Indies, South America, the southern U.S., and Africa.
  2. a fetish or charm used in practicing obeah.
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Also obi.

Origin of obeah

1750–60; compare Gullah, Jamaican English, Guyanan English, Sranan óbia magic, charm; < a West African language, though precise source unclear; compare Twi ɔ-bayifó sorcerer (compound with -fo person), Igbo díbìà folk healer (compound with dí- expert in)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for obeah

Historical Examples

  • But the obeah, with a whining plaint, spat away his tobacco-leaf.

    Darkness and Dawn

    George Allan England

  • And with a formless roar of killing-rage, Stern swung on the obeah, with the rifle.

    Darkness and Dawn

    George Allan England

  • But already, with a chattering howl, the obeah was running forward.

    Darkness and Dawn

    George Allan England

  • Obeah, on the other hand, kills only by poison—does not show the blood at all.

    West African studies

    Mary Henrietta Kingsley

  • Obeah can be worked by either alone, and is not tied to the presence of the snake.

    West African studies

    Mary Henrietta Kingsley


British Dictionary definitions for obeah

obeah

noun
  1. another word for obi 2
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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

Word Origin and History for obeah

n.

"sorcery, witchcraft" among blacks in Africa and the W.Indies, 1760, from a West African word, e.g. Efik (southern Nigeria) ubio "a thing or mixture left as a charm to cause sickness or death," Twi ebayifo "witch, wizard, sorcerer."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper