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.”
Mumbo jumbo may come from maamajomboo, the Mandinka (a West African language) word for a masked male dancer who was involved in some arcane rituals.
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.
How to use mumbo jumbo in a sentence
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
It's really twisted and sick mumbo-jumbo to try to pass this off as part of God's plan.Akin's Permanence, Huckabee's Sick Mumbo-Jumbo|Michael Tomasky|August 21, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Plus, as a politician he knows how fishy this heart mumbo jumbo looks.John Edwards Doctor's Notes Push Back Trial: Is He Really Sick?|Kent Sepkowitz|January 14, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Thereupon he asked me, even as you did some time ago, what I meant by Mumbo Jumbo?
Pauline actually believed in her religion, believed in it to the extent of dishonoring their love to appease the mumbo-jumbo.Plashers Mead|Compton Mackenzie
In such cases, the interposition of Mumbo Jumbo is called in and is always decisive.Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. II|Francis Augustus Cox
Thereupon he asked me, even as you did some time ago, what I meant by Mumbo Jumbo.
Suspended on a tree near the entrance of the town we saw the strange dress of bark called Mumbo Jumbo.Chambers's Edinburgh Journal Vol. XVII. No. 418. New Series.|William and Robert Chambers