from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Unintelligible or incomprehensible language; gibberish.
  • noun Language or ritualistic activity intended to confuse.
  • noun A complicated or obscure ritual.
  • noun An object believed to have supernatural powers; a fetish.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Among the Mandingos of the western Sudan, a bugbear by means of which the women are terrified and disciplined by societies of the men, one of whom assumes a masquerade for the purpose; hence, loosely, any Negro idol, fetish, or bugaboo.
  • noun An object of superstitious homage and fear.
  • noun Incomprehensible or senseless language, usually intended to avoid answering plainly, confuse a listener, or obscure an issue.
  • noun Language so arcane or obscure as to be unintelligible to the listener.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun historical A deity or other supernatural being said to have been worshipped by certain West African peoples; an idol.
  • noun religion Any object of superstition; religious words and/or actions which are seen as superstitious or fraudulent.
  • noun Any confusing or meaningless speech; nonsense, gibberish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun language or ritual causing, or intending to cause, confusion


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Mumbo-Jumbo, masked dancer described in 18th-century European accounts of the Mandinka, probably from Mandinka maamajomboo, masked dancer with prophetic powers : maama, term of address for a masked dancer + jomboo, ceremony of opening or first use.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from Mandinka maamajomboo ("mask; masked dancer"). What might be possible as well is the occurance of l-vocalization in the words "mumble" and "jumble".


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  • =A masked figure among Mandingo peoples of western Africa

    =An object of superstitious homage and fear

    =A complicated often ritualistic observance with elaborate trappings

    =Complicated activity or language usually intended to obscure and confuse

    =Unnecessarily involved and incomprehensible language : gibberish

    =Language, behavior, or beliefs based on superstition

    January 19, 2009

  • Woohoo, acrostic stepladder!

    July 29, 2009