woo-woo

/ (ˈwuːˌwuː) /

adjective

derogatory, slang based on or involving irrational superstition

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ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does woo-woo mean?

Woo-woo is a slang term used to insult mystical or supernatural beliefs not backed up by science.

How is woo-woo pronounced?

[ woo-woo ]

Where does woo-woo come from?

Woo-woo is first recorded in the 1980s, used to mock beliefs associated with the likes of New Age culture.

The term may have originated as an imitation of the sound of the theremin in horror and sci-fi films and TV, or of the spooky noises associated with ghosts and the supernatural.

Although woo-woo is usually considered derogatory, some alternative medicine practitioners, such as Deepak Chopra, have used the term themselves.

How is woo-woo used in real life?

As noted, some in the spiritualist or alternative medicine communities have taken up the label woo-woo, including U.K.-based spiritual teacher and podcaster Vix Maxwell (who goes by the moniker New Age Hipster). She, for instance, offers Woo Woo 101 courses for beginners at her Woo Woo School

Skeptics, however, typically use woo-woo to make fun of or dismiss (sometimes very harmful) pseudoscientific wellness beliefs and their practitioners. National Geographic Traveler even declared Sedona, Arizona to be the “Capital of Woo-Woo” in a 2010 magazine article.

More examples of woo-woo:

“I’ve seen two posts about being an empath on Facebook today. Everyone ready for a new, woo-woo buzz word?”
—@tomorrow_kelly, October 2018

“I don’t want to get too woo-woo about the whole thing, but there is kind of a spiritualism or mysticism with some kinds of fly fishing, especially when you progress through the beginning, intermediate and advanced stages”
—Tom Morgan quoted by Chet Layman, MTN News, October 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for woo-woo

  • As woo-woo as it sounds, you're yearning for a more spiritual experience of life, wherein daydreaming is a slice of daily bread.

    Zodiac Beast|Starsky + Cox|April 9, 2011|DAILY BEAST
  • The inhabitants of this island trace their origin to a monkey, which they call 'woo-woo.'

    The World of Waters|Mrs. David Osborne