I just met the persian/hindi word "jadoo". Given its meaning and sound, I would guess that it is etymologically connected to "voodoo", possibly having a common ancestry. I would like to confirm/refute such theory. An initial quick research on it took me nowhere. I can see where each word came from to a certain extent, but I can't get any conclusive information. "voodoo" came from north africa, but I couldn't figure out for how long it has been used there. "jadoo" is a persian word, and I also can't figure out dates for usage. Since these peoples are geographically somewhat close and their cultures were in several points in history mixed/connected, the relation seem even more plausible. Does anyone know if they are connected? If nobody knows, what can I do to investigate this further, or to be certain of it?

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    Given its meaning and sound - what is its meaning?
    – TKR
    Nov 13, 2013 at 3:30
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    And what is its sound? And why would you think these two words would be connected? They seem to have '-doo' in common, but that's not much, especially when we don't know what phones and phonemes the spelling "jadoo" is supposed to represent. Nov 13, 2013 at 5:03

4 Answers 4


The Farsi word "جادو" /dʒɒ:du:/ is thought to be cognate with Sanskrit "यातु" /ja:tu/, with a similar meaning. On the other hand, "voodoo" is thought to be ultimately derived from one of the Gbe languages of West Africa.

With such a large geographical distance between Indo-Arian and Gbe, no obvious possibility of contact and small phonetic similarity (/CVdu/), I'd bet my money on pure coincidence.

  • Great answer, thanks. I'll give it a couple more days before accepting, to see if any more facts come up; otherwise, don't hesitate to remind me to accept this. :-)
    – msb
    Nov 13, 2013 at 2:37

Voodoo or vodou in Haitian French Creole, is derived from Fon/Ewe vodun 'spirit' (pronounced [vodṹ]). As with other chance resemblances, the more you look into the etymology of both words, the less resemblance there turns out to actually be.

Another word that can mistakenly be taken to be related is juju [ǰu:ǰu:], from the Hausa word for 'fetish'. As Fon and Ewe are Niger-Congo languages, and Hausa is Afroasiatic, these words could only be related to each other by borrowing, and this seems unlikely. Juju certainly has no relationship, by borrowing or otherwise, to jadoo.

  • Thanks for your answer and welcome to SE Linguistics! Can you please add the pronounciation for Hausa juju? Oct 7, 2015 at 23:29
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    I've added the pronunciation to the my answer above. Oct 8, 2015 at 14:36

I feel pretty confident to say that jadoo/ja:tu is related to Greek ἰατρός 'physician, healer, surgeon'. The voodoo term must be a coincidence as others said.



Avestan yātu-, Middle Persian jādūg, New Persian jādū all mean “sorcerer”, though the NP word is also used for “sorcery” (MP. jādūgīh). This Iranian yātu- is cognate with Skt. yātu-.

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