Abracadabra is an incantation used as a magic word in stage magic tricks, and historically was believed to have healing powers when inscribed on an amulet. The word is thought to have its origin in the Aramaic language, but numerous, conflicting folk etymologies are associated with it. Known to most the word “Abracadabra” is actually a Hebrew phrase, which means “I create (A’bra) what (ca) I speak (dab’ra).”
The first known mention of the word was in the third century AD in a book called Liber Medicinalis (sometimes known as De Medicina Praecepta Saluberrima) by Quintus Serenus Sammonicus, physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, who in chapter 51 prescribed that malaria sufferers wear an amulet containing the word written in the form of a triangle:[clarification needed]]]
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R - A
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A
A - B - R - A - C - A - D
A - B - R - A - C - A
A - B - R - A - C
A - B - R - A
A - B - R
A - B
The power of the amulet, he explained, makes lethal diseases go away. Other Roman emperors, including Geta and Alexander Severus, were followers of the medical teachings of Serenus Sammonicus and may have used the incantation as well.
It was used as a magical formula by the Gnostics of the sect of Basilides in invoking the aid of beneficent spirits against disease and misfortune. It is found on Abraxas stones which were worn as amulets. Subsequently, its use spread beyond the Gnostics.
The Puritan minister Increase Mather dismissed the word as bereft of power. Daniel Defoe also wrote dismissively about Londoners who posted the word on their doorways to ward off sickness during the Great Plague of London. But Aleister Crowley regarded it as possessing great power; he said its true form is abrahadabra.
The word is now commonly used as an incantation by stage magicians. It is also applied contemptuously to a conception or hypothesis which purports to be a simple solution of apparently insoluble phenomena.
In popular culture 
In comics 
- Abra Kadabra is the name of a DC Comics villain, who originally uses futuristic technology to create effects that appear magic to present-day people, and later gains actual magic powers.
- Mr. Kadabra is a member of the 13th floor witches, in Vertigo's Fables comic series.
- In Sergio Aragonés' Groo comic series, two witches who are sometimes allies or enemies of Groo are named Arba and Dakarba.
In games 
In the Nintendo/GameFreak video game franchise Pokémon, there are three creatures in the same evolutionary chain named Abra, Kadabra, and Alakazam (the third of which is also an alleged magic word used by stage magicians).
In literature 
The incantation Avada Kedavra is known as the Killing Curse in the Harry Potter novel series. During an audience interview at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 15 April 2004, series author J. K. Rowling had this to say about the fictional Killing Curse's etymology: "Does anyone know where avada kedavra came from? It is an ancient spell in Aramaic, and it is the original of abracadabra, which means 'let the thing be destroyed.' Originally, it was used to cure illness and the 'thing' was the illness, but I decided to make it the 'thing' as in the person standing in front of me. I take a lot of liberties with things like that. I twist them round and make them mine."
In cinema 
- Aabra Ka Daabra was a 2004 Hindi Bollywood movie where the character Rahul is a magician and performs Houdini-like tricks.
See also 
- Vollmer, Friedrich. Quinti Sereni Liber Medicinalis. Leipzig: Teubner, 1916, chap. LII, v. 4.
- The Tenacious Buzz of Malaria". Wall Street Journal. July 10, 2010.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abracadabra". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Daniel Defoe. A Journal of the Plague Year. London, Dent, 1911 (1722)
- Guiley, Rosemary (2006). "Abracadabra". The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy. Visionary Living Inc. ISBN 0-8160-6048-7.
- J. K. Rowling (2004-08-15). "J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival". J.K.Rowling Official Site. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
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