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Hocus-pocus is a compound word that has been in the English language since at least the 1600s. We will look at the meaning of the term hocus-pocus, the theories concerning where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Hocus-pocus is a word originally used by magicians as a supposed magical incantation. Today, the term hocus-pocus is more often used to describe something that is deceptive, tricky, not on the up-and-up. The term Hocas Pocas was once a common name used by jugglers and magicians. There are several theories as to the origin of the word. One theory is that it is simply composed of rhyming nonsense words. Another theory is that hocus-pocus is derived from the nonsense Latin phrase hax pax max Deus adima, which was often used by conjurers in the 1600s as a pseudo-incantation. The third theory is that the term hocus-pocus is take from the words spoken during the consecration of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Mass, hoc est corpus meum. Finally, some believe that the term hocus-pocus is derived from a magician in Norse mythology, Ochus Bochus. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word should be hyphenated, though it is sometimes seen as two separate words as in hocus pocus.


“I’m not the type of person who’s into that kind of hocus pocus, but when you’re so desperate, if somebody can help, that’s great,” she said. (Bethesda Magazine)

“OK, hocus-pocus, wave your hand old mochas, and open the door!” (The Florida Times-Union)

Ardent lefty David Miller, who wanted to plant lawns on every rooftop, resorted to the hocus pocus of land transfer levies and vehicle registration fees rather than risk upsetting voters by seeking a straightforward hike in their property bill. (The National Post)