Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Wikipedia provides the likely etymology:

There are several possible etymologies of the word zombie. One possible origin is jumbie, the West Indian term for 'ghost'. Another is nzambi, the Kongo word meaning 'spirit of a dead person.' According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word entered English circa 1871; it's derived from the Louisiana Creole or Haitian Creole zonbi, which in turn is of Bantu origin. A zonbi is a person who is believed to have died and been brought back to life without speech or free will. It is akin to the Kimbundu nzúmbe ghost.
But it does not mention the unlikely one: that the word is linked to the Greek Ζωον ('a living being, animal'), which is to say, Ζωος ('life, alive'), as well as to βιός ('life i.e. not animal life, but a course of life, manner of living'). We know these words from their English derivations (Zoology, Biology). Zo-(m)Bios, The reduplicated 'living-life' having the effect almost of cancelling, or putting under the sign of ironic erasure, the entity so described.

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