What is the origin of mojo?
Mojo “exceptional ability, good luck, success” in its earliest sense denoted an object that was believed to carry a magic spell. From there, the word expanded to indicate magic itself and personal use of magic, and mojo’s popular use today in reference to seemingly magical influence or ability is informal. Mojo is of uncertain origin but is most likely related to the word moco “witchcraft, magic” in Gullah, a creole language spoken by an African-American population located along the southern Atlantic coast. Though Gullah is based on English, it incorporates ample vocabulary from the Niger–Congo language subfamily, which is spread across much of sub-Saharan Africa and includes languages such as Fulani, Mende, Yoruba, Swahili, and Zulu. Gullah moco may have its origin in one of these languages, as the Fulani word for “medicine man” is moco’o. Mojo was first recorded in the late 1920s.