One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Used as an exclamation imparting supposed magical power, as when performing a trick. Hence in extended use, connoting any sudden transformation or happening.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in The Sun. Apparently an arbitrary formation, invented to sound like a word in an unspecified foreign language, with the intention of creating an air of exoticism and mystery. In use as a magical exclamation perhaps approximately suggested by abracadabra, although compare discussion below.
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