Magic spells usually come to mind when this word is heard. It does, in fact have ancients roots, stemming back to the 2nd Century AD – it was in a poem written by Quintus Sammonicus Serenus entitled De Medicina Praecepta. As physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, he prescribed that a sufferer from disease wear it as an amulet, in the form of a triangle:
Supposedly, this would diminish the hold the disease has over the patient / sufferer. It may have a Semitic origin, but it is also similar to the Aramaic ‘Abrahadabra’ which roughly translates to “I will create as I speak.”
Other associations with this word: ‘Abracadabra’ was used as a magical formula by the Gnostics of the sect of Basilides to invoke the aid of beneficient spirits against disease (according to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica) .