1. (in voodoo)
    1. the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.
    2. the supernatural force itself.
  2. Informal.
    1. a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton.
    2. an eccentric or peculiar person.
  3. a snake god worshiped in West Indian and Brazilian religious practices of African origin.
  4. a tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.
  5. Canadian Slang. an army conscript assigned to home defense during World War II.

noun plural -bies or -bis

  1. a person who is or appears to be lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment; automaton
  2. a supernatural spirit that reanimates a dead body
  3. a corpse brought to life in this manner
  4. the snake god of voodoo cults in the West Indies, esp Haiti, and in scattered areas of the southern US
  5. the python god revered in parts of West Africa
  6. a piece of computer code that instructs an infected computer to send a virus on to other computer systems

1871, of West African origin (cf. Kikongo zumbi “fetish;” Kimbundu nzambi “god”), originally the name of a snake god, later with meaning “reanimated corpse” in voodoo cult. But perhaps also from Louisiana creole word meaning “phantom, ghost,” from Spanish sombra “shade, ghost.” Sense “slow-witted person” is recorded from 1936.

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