Where did the word “zombie” come from? Anthropologists explain.

We are familiar with the word “zombie” from movies, books, and comics. But where did it come from? The term meaning “living dead” has a rather mysterious origin. Clues lead to Africa.

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The word “zombie” came to us written in a book published in 1697 by the Frenchman Pierre-Corneille Blessebois. This libertine and adventurer was sent into exile to Guadeloupe for his sins. On this Caribbean island, he set the action of his adventure book “Zombie from Grand Perou, or Countess de Cocagne” (Le Zombi du Grand Pérou ou la Comtesse de Cocagne).

The French language had not encountered this term before. The Frenchman apparently adopted the word from legends and beliefs he encountered in the Caribbean. Such tales circulated among plantation owners, and most importantly among slaves — Africans brought to distant islands. Therefore, researchers most often attribute an African etymology to the word “zombie.”

[Image generated by AI, Free to use]

Where did the word “zombie” come from?

However, determining the exact origin of the word is not easy. It also shows how many nations were torn from the Black Land and mixed in the Caribbean.

“Most often, terms found in Bantu languages ​​from the Congo Basin are indicated. Nzambi means both the creator god and the deceased who gained supernatural power, nsumbi refers to a demonic entity, ‘devil,’ and zumbi is used to describe a fetish,” mentions possible definitions anthropologist Dr. Jan Lorenz.

The lack of the letter “e” at the end of the words is by no means accidental. In the earliest period, the form “zombi” coexisted with the “zombie” we know. This is how the infamous Blessebois wrote the name of the invented ghost in the…

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