About Hocus Pocus

“A juggler’s trick; conjuring, jugglery; sleight of hand; a method of bringing something about as if by magic; trickery, deception.” Also, in an obsolete usage, “a trickster.”

The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (OED)

“I will speak of one man…that went about in King James his time…who called himself, The Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus talontus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery.”

Thomas Ady, A Candle in Dark (1655), p. 29, quoted in OED

“The notion that hocus pocus was a parody of the Latin words used in the Eucharist, rests merely on a conjecture thrown out by Tillotson….”



Unless otherwise indicated, all content at Hocus Pocus is created by Jon Boyd. The site’s header image is from a photograph shot on film in Great Britain in May 1986.

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