Hocus pocus was also a term that was sometimes used pejoratively by muggles to refer to magic, trying to cast wizards as mere magicians. In 1997, when worried that Harry Potter was planning to "get the house," Vernon Dursley stated "You want us out of the way and then you're going to do a bit of hocus pocus and before we know it the deeds will be in your name and –"
The term was occasionally employed even by wizards, though still as a put-down of sorts. When speaking with Quirinus Quirrell regarding his protection of the Philosopher's Stone, Severus Snape commented "--your little bit of hocus-pocus. I'm waiting."
Hocus pocus, like abracadabra, is a magic word commonly used by magicians, typically when they perform an illusion. In British English, hocus pocus is also a general term meaning "contrived nonsense," similar to rubbish, hogwash, or baloney. The origins of the term are unknown, but John Tillotson, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1691 to 1694, theorised that it might have arisen as a mockery of the Roman Catholic liturgy of the Mass, which features the Latin phrase Hoc est corpus meum ("This is my body").
Behind the scenes
- While Harry seemed to be merely making up nonsense spells, the appearance of the spell in the title Jiggery Pokery and Hocus Pocus, described as containing "mischief-making spells," suggests that it could in fact be a real spell.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Pottermore (In book title)
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 1 (The Worst Birthday)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 3 (The Dursleys Departing)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 13 (Nicolas Flamel)
- "Hocus Pocus (magic)" on Wikipedia
- "Hocus-pocus" on the Online Etymology Dictionary