AskDefine | Define juju

Dictionary Definition



1 the power associated with a juju
2 a charm superstitiously believed to embody magical powers [syn: voodoo, hoodoo, fetish, fetich]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  • , /ˈdʒuːdʒu/, /"dZu:dZu/


  1. A fetish or charm believed by West Africans to have magical or supernatural powers.
  2. The magical or supernatural power of such a charm.
  3. A type of music popular in Nigeria.

Derived terms



  1. A fictional bogeyman, commonly used to scare young children.
    ''Go to sleep, or the bogeyman will come for you. In Bengali: ঘুমিয়ে পর। নাহলে যুযু আশবে।



  • Hyphenation: ju·ju
  • lang=fi|[ˈjuju]


  1. A catch, a problem, a snag, especially in a deal or negotiation; a hitch.
    Kuulostaa hyvältä idealta, mutta mikä on homman juju?
    It sounds like a great idea, but what's the catch?





Extensive Definition

Juju is a word of West African origin that refers to the supernatural power ascribed to an object.

Juju Magic

Juju(mugunthan fom Malaysia) is an aura or other magical property, usually having to do with spirits or luck, which is bound to a specific object; it is also a term for the object. Juju also refers to the spirits and ghosts in West African lore as a general name. The object that contains the juju, or fetish, can be anything from an elephant’s head to an extinguisher. One of the most popular juju objects in West Africa, for example, is a monkey's hand. In general, juju can only be created by a witch doctor; few exceptions exist. Juju can be summoned by a witch doctor for several purposes. Good juju can cure ailments of mind and body; anything from fractured limbs to a headache can be corrected. Bad juju is used to exact revenge, soothe jealousy, and cause misfortune. Contrary to common belief, voodoo is not related to juju, despite the linguistic and spiritual similarities. Juju has acquired some karmic attributes in more recent times. Good juju can stem from almost any good deed: saving a kitten, or returning a lost book. Bad juju can be spread just as easily. These ideas revolve around the luck and fortune portions of juju. The use of juju to describe an object usually involves small items worn or carried; these generally contain medicines produced by witchdoctors.

Juju Music

expert-subject Regional and national music
Juju is also the name of a popular Nigerian music. Tied closely to Yoruba culture, Juju generally features the tension drum (aka "talking drum') and bright, shimmering guitar lines, often played on a steel guitar. Though the form arose in the early half of the 20th century, it found its first real audience on Nigerian stages in the 1960s following the popularity of Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and accordionist I.K. Dairo, M.B.E. In the late '60s former Highlife guitarist King Sunny Adé emerged as a force in the music. As the '60s became the '70s, Adé and Obey became the leading lights of Juju, audiences and the press casting Adé as an innovator and Obey as a traditionalist.
Both Obey and Adé found international audiences in the 1980s, Adé becoming a superstar when he signed with Island Records in their bid to find an African Bob Marley, and Obey with his breakthrough album Current Affairs (1980).

Usage in popular culture

  • The phrase is used in several John le Carre novels, notably Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
  • The phrase is also featured in Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American where narrator and protagonists Fowler remarks "and I thought to myself 'the juju doesn't work'"
  • Juju is a term used to refer to energy: "good juju" is good energy; "bad juju" is bad energy. This popular meaning has found its way to television. The ABC series Grey's Anatomy uses the term in the episode "Superstition", as does the CBS series The Unit, in its 2006 episode, "The Kill Zone." It has been used in the TV series House.It has also been used by Capitan Sig Hansen of the F/V Northwestern on the Discovery Channel show "The Deadliest Catch."
  • In the music industry, Juju plays a big part in the work of J Plunky Branch with his afro-funk jazz fusion music. From 1971 to 1974 his band was called Juju, from 1975 to 1981 Oneness of Juju, from 1982 to 1988 Plunky & Oneness of Juju and from 1988 to present day is known as Plunky & Oneness. The band also had an album in 1984 called Electric JuJu Nation. (This information courtesy of the band's website:
  • The phrase "bad juju" is used occasionally in the British comedy series "The Mighty Boosh."
  • Archie Shepp's 1967 album was titled The Magic of Ju-Ju.
  • Wayne Shorter's 1964 album was titled "JuJu", named after one of his most frequently performed compositions.
  • The lyric "JuJu eyeball" appears in the popular Beatles song "Come Together."
  • The fourth studio album by Siouxsie & the Banshees is named Juju (1981).
  • Alice Cooper has a song titled "Black Juju," and uses the lyric "juju eye" in his song "Zombie Dance."
  • Sammy Hagar has a song titled "Serious Juju", located on album "Ten 13"
  • Albertsons sells a derivative of Swedish fish called Ju Ju Fish.
  • The Phrase "Bad JuJu" also appears twice in the animated feature Ice Age 2: The Meltdown during the dance of the mini-sloths.
  • The term 'Juju' also appears in the video game, and Nickelodeon show: "Tak and the Power of Juju".
  • The term 'Bad Juju' is used by Hyde in That 70's Show after eating crows cooked by Fez.
  • 'Juju' is used as a slang term for marijuana-filled cigarettes in Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely. On page 73, Anne Riordan says 'I knew a guy once who smoked jujus...Three highballs and three sticks of tea and it took a pipe wrench to get him off the chandelier.'
  • In the Walt Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille one of the cooks, with a Haitian background, says, during a stressful moment, "This is bad juju."
  • 'Juju' is referred to as "the art of mentally controlling any enemy" in the Spider-Man story that appears in Marvel Super-Heroes Vol. 1 #14. This is accomplished using a "juju doll", implying a certain amount of confusion with voodoo.
  • Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane stories feature a witch doctor as a prominent character. He refers to his magic as "juju" powers and the narrarator refers to the witch doctor as a fetish man.
  • In the first book of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Storm Front, the main character, Harry Dresden, states it is "bad juju" to break into someone else's dwelling, which is why vampires don't enter homes without invitation.
  • Popular Bengali band Chandrabindoo has a song and album by the same name.
  • In the television show The Mighty Boosh the term 'Bad Ju Ju' is used by Naboo

Usage in military culture

Juju is a term used in the United States military (especially in Infantry and combat arms) to describe a superstitious behavior which is believed to put a person at either a greater risk of bodily or to protect them from harm. This term is almost always used in the negative context, i.e. “bad Juju”.
Juju as military slang is distinct from behavior which could reasonably increase or decrease a person's chances for injury. While not wearing a helmet can be considered “bad juju”, it is not because it leaves the head exposed but because the action tempts fate. Juju can also be assigned to signs such as unusual dreams or occurrences. It is often used in reference to behavior indicative of enemy activity, such as a lack of people in a normally crowded market. Juju also has a karmic element to it, especially when relating to people who have been injured. Treating an injured civilian, especially a child, is “good juju”. Stealing personal effects or making fun of a soldier that was injured or killed is considered to be “very bad juju”.
juju in Dutch: Juju
juju in Finnish: Juju
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