noun, plural mum·bo jum·bos.
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Origin of mumbo jumbo
Words nearby mumbo jumbo
ABOUT THIS WORD
More context on mumbo jumbo
When someone isn’t making any sense, we might joke that they’re talking mumbo jumbo. However, it may not originally mean “a whole lot of mumbling.”
The potential problem with mumbo jumbo, though, is that it may have historically likened the speech or customs of African peoples to “nonsense,” as if unintelligible or amusing in some way to the European colonists who introduced or modified maamajomboo into the English language.
If knowing the history of mumbo jumbo has got you reflecting on your word choices, this slideshow, “These Common Words Have Offensive Histories,” discusses many other words whose place in your vocab you may want to reconsider.
Keep in mind …
You might want to avoid using mumbo jumbo due to its potentially offensive implications and past. Some words you can consider instead of mumbo jumbo—for the many times we all mutter on in incomprehensible lingo or babble incoherently—include gibberish, hogwash, hocus-pocus, or gobbledygook.
Make sense of more nonsense words over at Thesaurus.com.
Example sentences from the Web for mumbo jumbo
As the driver bios appeared on the jumbo screen, I flashed a toothy grin after noticing that two of them were women.The Moms of Monster Jam Drive Trucks, Buck Macho Culture|Eliza Krigman|November 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Please go to BobQ2014.com for details and all that attorney mumbo-jumbo.‘Blow Your Balls Off’ Senate Candidate Wants to Give Away a Free Car|Olivia Nuzzi|April 18, 2014|DAILY BEAST
They're always trying to upsell you on that jumbo popcorn bucket at the movies.‘Catching Fire’ Review: Bigger, More Polished, and Just Another Popcorn Flick|Kevin Fallon|November 14, 2013|DAILY BEAST
This was appropriate because just like her jumbo soda, her twenty minute speech was filled with empty calories.
It's really twisted and sick mumbo-jumbo to try to pass this off as part of God's plan.
He had leaped very smartly to this point of vantage, nevertheless he found Jumbo there before him, chattering worse than ever!Hunting the Lions|R.M. Ballantyne
Had his legs been longer, Fred Greenwood would have pronounced him the equal of Jumbo himself.Two Boys in Wyoming|Edward S. Ellis
Thereupon he asked me, even as you did some time ago, what I meant by Mumbo Jumbo?Lavengro|George Borrow
Me Jumbo—come to lay breakfast, and cappen say you hab what you like ask for, especially someting nice for de young lady.The Missing Ship|W. H. G. Kingston
They kept up the jumbo sail, as the main jib is called; they reefed the foresail down to its smallest compass.Blow The Man Down|Holman Day