Definition of mumbo jumbo in English:

mumbo jumbo


  • [mass noun] Language or ritual causing or intended to cause confusion or bewilderment:

    ‘a maze of legal mumbo jumbo’
    • ‘It's all mumbo-jumbo, ancient rituals that for some extraordinary reason we've stuck with.’
    • ‘All that is historic mumbo-jumbo as Indonesia now turns the corner and heads for a future that could well be the envy of many.’
    • ‘Effie is at Dundee University, caught up in women's liberation meetings, Socialist Worker Party sit-ins and the incomprehensible ramblings of her tutors to explain the art of the novel in terms of post-structuralist mumbo-jumbo.’
    • ‘Don't tell me you actually believe in that sailor mumbo-jumbo.’
    • ‘Little wonder that people switch off, or regard it as simply mumbo-jumbo.’
    • ‘Cast away all that mumbo-jumbo new age ideas one might have about meditation.’
    • ‘If you don't understand all of the pseudo-psychological/philosophical mumbo-jumbo, you haven't missed the point.’
    • ‘Because that's when mumbo-jumbo has taken over from reason.’
    • ‘But that's all insider mumbo-jumbo which is really neither here nor there.’
    • ‘Eventually, I'm told, maps will be rendered redundant by Global Positioning Systems, which will mark a triumph of science over mumbo-jumbo.’
    • ‘It was if he was teasing me with the start of a question, then regressing into mumbo-jumbo just to confuse me.’
    • ‘We'll worry about the legal mumbo-jumbo later, but expect the menu to remain the same.’
    • ‘Could you imagine how you would feel if you visited your doctor and he started to spout some mumbo-jumbo about your ‘humours’ being out of balance, and how the best course was for you to be purged and bled?’
    • ‘I don't think he is looking for handouts, just someone to shine a path for him through all the jargon and technical mumbo-jumbo.’
    • ‘But the programs aimed at putting these guys to work, according to the documents I'm looking at, are woefully underfunded and getting held up by the same old interagency mumbo-jumbo.’
    • ‘The clear distinction between right and wrong has been lost in sociological mumbo-jumbo and politically correct nonsense.’
    • ‘But one works on it for so long that all sorts of psychological mumbo-jumbo gets bound up in it.’
    • ‘So, in spite of what I wrote above, I don't think we should get ourselves caught up in some sort of legal mumbo-jumbo legal definition of what ‘identify’ means.’
    • ‘That's because lenders continue to rely on what I call ‘confusion marketing’ - using financial mumbo-jumbo and an array of different deals to baffle us!’
    • ‘This may sound like futuristic mumbo-jumbo, and I happily confess that I wrote the preceding paragraph with an eye to catching your attention, even if only by the somewhat dangerous route of courting your immediate disapproval!’
    nonsense, gibberish, claptrap, rubbish, balderdash, blather, blether
    jargon, unintelligible language, obscure language, hocus-pocus
    gobbledegook, double dutch, argle-bargle, bull
    View synonyms


Mid 18th century (as Mumbo Jumbo, denoting a supposed African idol): of unknown origin; the current sense dates from the late 19th century.


mumbo jumbo

/ˌmʌmbəʊ ˈdʒʌmbəʊ/