The word Abracadabra (alternative spelling Abrakadabra) is an incantation (a word which is said to have magical effects). It is perhaps the most well-known incantation in popular culture.
There are a number of different theories about where the word abracadabra originated. Here are some examples:
- Derived from Aramaic, a group of Semitic languages used for divine worship.
- Derived from the phrase avra kedabra which means "I will create as I speak".
- Hebrew origin: The word is derived from three Hebrew words, ab (father), ben (son) and ruah acadosh (holy spirit).
- Chaldean origin: The Chaldean phrase abbada ke dabra refers to "‘perish like this word".
- Thelema origin: The word Abrahadabra is considered the magical formula for their current Aeon (age).
The first recorded use of the word abracadabra was in a poem called "De Medicina Praecepta" by Quintus Serenus Sammonicus (2nd Century AD). Sammonicus was a physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, and he used the incantation Abracadabra to treat fever and inflammations. He prescribed amulets to be worn around neck, inscribed with this incantation in a triangular pattern which symbolized the tunnel that filters the negative energy from the body.
J.K. Rowling used the phrase Avada Kedavra in Harry Potter as a "Killing Curse". The derivation of this phrase cannot be directly attributed to the Aramaic word that means "I will create as I speak". Rather it is derived from the Latin root word cadaver that means "dead body".
At present it is commonly used by stage magicians as an incantation or a precursor to a magical act.