Why Do We Say Abracadabra?

Giving magic tricks a try is something that every child dabbles in at least once. We bet you all had a box stuffed full of top hats, magic wands, white rabbits and trick decks of cards! And we bet that you all at some point pulled off a very successful trick to the amazement of your friends and family, yelling out “abracadabra” with glee!

But just where exactly did this phrase come from and why do we magicians say it at the end of a trick? These days, even if we can’t work it out, we know that the magic trick we’ve just witnessed isn’t actually magic. We may not want to know how it’s done but we do know that there isn’t anything really supernatural going on – it’s just cleverness, good ideas and lots and lots of practice on the part of your corporate event magician!

But back in medieval times, any weird occurrences or interesting phenomena were attributed to magic or the occult. Apparently, at this time when people were ill they would wear a triangular amulet with the phrase engraved on it and each time the word was read aloud the poorly patient would gradually feel a little bit better until completely cured.

Over time, the power that this word held diminished and by the turn of the 19th century, it had come to mean ‘fake magic’. It soon became a staple phrase of magicians on stage who needed something to give their acts a bit of added pizazz… and the rest, as they say, is history!

For further reading on this topic, check out the Collective Evolution blog now.