Whenever we hold a wand in our hands, we always say Abracadabra with the hope that our spell may work. Truth be told, it never worked for us even though, it might have worked wonders for the magicians. Read this article to learn what is abracadabra definition & abracadabra origin.
1. Origin of Abracadabra
Abracadabra is believed to have originated from the Hebrew language. It was spoken a thousand years ago in several regions populated with Hebrews (an ancient name for Jews) and Christians. The word may be derived from a combination of 3 Hebrew words:
- ab (father),
- ben (son), and
- ruach acadosch (holy spirit),
It might been derived from the Aramaic phrase avra kadavra meaning I will create as I speak.
2. Other Meaning
The word Abracadabra is known to be in use from 4th century Latin. It may have had its origin from the Greek word abraxas. It is a special word whose letters add up to 365, the number of days in a non-leap year. Ancient Jews and Christians seemed to have worn amulets with the word abraxas as it is believed to be magical. It was believed this word would chase away evil spirits. (See Do You Know The Greek Alphabet?)
3. The First Usage
The first usage of the phrase is believed to be carried out by a Roman tutor and sage named Serenus Sammonicus in the 2nd century AD. In his book Liber Medicinalis (also known as De Medicina Praecepta Saluberrima), he recommends writing the phrase Abracadabra in an amulet in the form of an inverted triangle as a cure to various diseases. This theory was deeply believed in and followed religiously as these words were believed to have superpowers. (See Why Do People Wish on Dandelions?)
4. Times of Black Plague
In the 18th century, when the Black Plague broke out, it caused a severe crisis and there were deaths worldwide. The huge deathtoll and lingering fear along with the mindset of the medieval age made the people hold on to their belief that the amulets made from abracadabra would protect them.
According to them, the plague was the doing of some evil spirit, and that amulet will send the evil spirit away, if it tries to come near them. As evident from Journal of Plague Year by Daniel Defoe published in 1722. It has clearly been stated that people believed in pyramids or cones of abracadabra and other sorts of talismans even after centuries have passed by since the abracadabra origin.
5. abracadabra Cone
Abracadabra was commonly worn as an amulet. The word was written in the first step, and gradually, one letter of the word was removed until the last letter of the word remained. This formed an inverted triangle or a cone shape. They were worn in charms and talismans owing to the belief of them being a magical charm. This belief carried on for centuries and still does. (See Are Unicorns Real?)
6. Just a Meaningless Incantation
Towards the beginning of the 19th century, as rationalization progressed and people began moving into a scientific society, they realized that Abracadabra is nothing but a word. That too, without any mythical or magical powers. They even gave up on amulets and no longer hung them around their necks to cure illness or disease. Since then, it has been used just by the stage performers while doing magic tricks. It helps to bring out the element of surprise. It also indicates their belief and respect towards traditional elements of magic. Moreover, it provides a sense that the person using the word has some mysterious power or knowledge.
Even though abracadabra origin is traced back to several centuries, it’s meaning & usage has changed over time. Abracadabra’s definition might not be the same as it was centuries ago but, being alive for thousands of years seems magical. Doesn’t it?