noun, often capitalized
obe·​ah | \ ˈō-bē-ə How to pronounce obeah (audio) \
variants: or less commonly obi \ ˈō-​bē How to pronounce obeah (audio) \

Definition of obeah

: a system of belief among Black people chiefly of the British West Indies and the Guianas that is characterized by the use of magic ritual to ward off misfortune or to cause harm

First Known Use of obeah

circa 1711, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obeah

of African origin; akin to Ibo díbìà folk healer

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Time Traveler for obeah

Time Traveler

The first known use of obeah was circa 1711

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Last Updated

18 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Obeah.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obeah. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on obeah

Nglish: Translation of obeah for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about obeah


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