: nonsense or sham used or intended to cloak deception
About the Word:
Hocus-pocus has had a number of meanings over the years. It began, in the early 17th century, as a term for a juggler (and the etymology is thought to be the jugglers' attempt to imitate a Latin word). After this it became a phrase employed by the jugglers, used as a faux incantation when performing a trick.
From there it became synonymous with nonsense used to mask a deception. Like many other reduplicative words hocus-pocus has a good number of similar synonyms (reduplicative words like to stick together); mumbo jumbo ("complicated and sometimes purposeless activity intended to obscure and confuse") and fiddle-faddle ("trifling or foolish talk, comment, or action").
- Ammon Shea
"The absurd 'hocus pocus' contained in Mr. Anderson's proposal needs no further comment." - Ernest Seyd, Reform of the Bank of England Note Issue, 1873