Hocus Pocus
Words of pseudomagical import. According to Sharon Turner
in The History of the Anglo-Saxons (4 vols., 1799–1805), they
were believed to be derived from ‘‘Ochus Bochus,’’ a magician
and demon of the north. It is more probable, however, that
they are a corruption of the Latin hoc est corpus (this is my body),
words spoken during the act of transubstantiation in the
Roman Catholic Mass. The term has been used since the seventeenth
century as a preface to the tricks of conjuring magicians.
Conjurers used to introduce tricks with the sham Latin formula,
‘‘Hocus pocus, tontus talontus, rade celeriter jubeo.’’

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