If ever there was a word with its origin shrouded in the mists and myths of time then this is surely it. The consensus seems to be its origin is unknown and that it is simply a meaningless, gibberish word, long employed by magicians and tricksters. The OED cites its first appearance in English from 1696, but goes on to state that it was first found in Latin in the works of Quintus Serenus Sammonicus during the second century AD. Other sources make mention of Ancient Greek, Phoenician, Egyptian and even Aramaic origins. A number of etymologists have refused to accept that it is simply an ancient nonsense word and continue to search for a deeper, esoteric meaning. As interesting as some of these theories are, all of them are unproven. For those who wish to go through them, Daniel D. Stuhlman has written a comprehensive article on the subject. This is available online at the following link: http://home.earthlink.net/~ddstuhlman/crc55.htm But even Mr. Stuhlman comes to the conclusion the exact origin is unknown.