a mystical word or expression used in incantations, on amulets, etc., as a magical means of warding off misfortune, harm, or illness.
any charm or incantation using nonsensical or supposedly magical words.
meaningless talk; gibberish; nonsense.

Origin of abracadabra

1690–1700; < Late Latin, probably < Late Greek, perhaps reflecting recitation of the initial letters of the alphabet; cf. abecedary
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for abracadabra

invocation, incantation, spell, hocus-pocus

Examples from the Web for abracadabra

Contemporary Examples of abracadabra

  • Chandelier, swimming pool, patient EKG, Abracadabra, you are free.

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    Catastrophe in Verse

    Eliza Griswold

    April 21, 2011

  • The first entry is “Abracadabra,” which at one time was an ancient code used by Egyptian priests, and ends with “Zoroastrianism.”

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    The Craziest Religions

    Benyamin Cohen

    July 24, 2010

  • Wei somehow slips in unnoticed, has a private tête-à-tête with the powers that be, and abracadabra, deal done.

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    China's Financial Insider

    Huang Hung

    March 18, 2010

Historical Examples of abracadabra

British Dictionary definitions for abracadabra



a spoken formula, used esp by conjurors


a word used in incantations, etc, considered to possess magic powers
gibberish; nonsense

Word Origin for abracadabra

C17: from Latin: magical word used in certain Gnostic writings, perhaps related to Greek Abraxas; see abraxas
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 abracadabra

magical formula, 1690s, from Latin (Q. Severus Sammonicus, 2c.), from Late Greek Abraxas, cabalistic or gnostic name for the supreme god, and thus a word of power. It was written out in a triangle shape and worn around the neck to ward off sickness, etc. Another magical word, from a mid-15c. writing, was ananizapta.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper