[ voo-doo ]
See synonyms for Voodoo on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural Voo·doos.
  1. Sometimes Vo·doun . a fusion of Afro-Caribbean Vodou and folk magic practiced chiefly in Louisiana, deriving ultimately from West African Vodun and containing elements borrowed from the Roman Catholic religion.: Compare Hoodoo (def. 1), Santería, Vodun, Vodou.

  2. a person who practices this religion.

  1. a fetish or other object of Voodoo worship.

  2. a group of magical and ecstatic rites associated with Voodoo.

  3. voodoo. Sometimes Offensive. (loosely) black magic; sorcery.

  1. of, pertaining to, associated with, or practicing Voodoo.

  2. voodoo. Informal: Sometimes Offensive. characterized by deceptively simple, almost as if magical, solutions or ideas: voodoo economics.

verb (used with object),Voo·dooed, Voo·doo·ing.
  1. to affect by Voodoo magic.

Origin of Voodoo

An Americanism dating back to 1810–20; from Louisiana French, earlier vandoux, vandoo, from a West African source perhaps akin to Fon vodũ “spirit,” or Ewe vodu “tutelary deity, demon”

usage note For Voodoo

The history of slavery in the Caribbean brought religious practices from enslaved West Africans into contact with the Roman Catholicism in French and Spanish colonies, and resulted in distinct New World religions like Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo.
For some time, the most common name in English for these related religious traditions was Voodoo. Today the capitalized proper noun Voodoo is used only for the religion as practiced in Louisiana. The spelling Voodoo is considered offensive in naming religious practice outside of Louisiana, as in Haiti and Cuba, where the proper names are Vodou and Vodú, respectively.
However, as the widely recognized term, Voodoo was also the one appropriated by popular culture to describe a number of practices poorly understood or purposefully exoticized by those outside of the religious community. Spiritual practices involving charmed objects loosely inspired the so-called “voodoo doll,” though no such practice of stabbing an effigy with pins is attested in the practice of Voodoo or Hoodoo. In Vodou, the “zombie” is a living but soulless individual whose free will has been taken by a powerful sorcerer or bocor, not the risen dead monster depicted in films, books, and video games. Ultimately, use of the word voodoo is complicated by widespread familiarity with the appropriated, secular, pop culture mythology of the entertainment industry—a mythology that poorly represents or directly conflicts with the authentic religious and historical core of Voodoo and related spiritual traditions such as Vodun, Vodou, and Hoodoo.

Words Nearby Voodoo

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Voodoo in a sentence

  • He had a schooner named the Voodoo, a coast cruiser that never went further to sea than the Windwards.

    The Belted Seas | Arthur Colton
  • All Voodoo and aristocratic young hero and beautiful maiden pursued by an officer of the black rebels.

    Ralestone Luck | Andre Norton
  • The old Voodoo priests were passing away and already here and there new spiritual leaders of the Negroes began to arise.

    The Negro in the South | Booker T. Washington
  • But we of the Pearl were very careful not to repeat to Cambon anything of Amos's mention of the Voodoo.

    The Voodoo Gold Trail | Walter Walden
  • Pledging her to secrecy I then told her Rufe's story of Amos, though carefully omitting any mention of the Voodoo.

    The Voodoo Gold Trail | Walter Walden

British Dictionary definitions for voodoo


/ (ˈvuːduː) /

nounplural -doos
  1. Also called: voodooism a religious cult involving witchcraft and communication by trance with ancestors and animistic deities, common in Haiti and other Caribbean islands

  2. a person who practises voodoo

  1. a charm, spell, or fetish involved in voodoo worship and ritual

  1. relating to or associated with voodoo

verb-doos, -dooing or -dooed
  1. (tr) to affect by or as if by the power of voodoo

Origin of voodoo

C19: from Louisiana French voudou, ultimately of West African origin; compare Ewe vodu guardian spirit

Derived forms of voodoo

  • voodooist, noun
  • voodooistic, adjective

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

Cultural definitions for voodoo


A form of animism (see also animism) involving trances and other rituals. Communication with the dead is a principal feature of voodoo. It is most common in the nations of the Caribbean Sea, especially Haiti, where people sometimes mingle voodoo and Christian practices.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.