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I'm trying to decode the mysterious word Ananyzapata. Unfortunately I don't have the original source, just its appearance on a slide from a presentation. From the context (words on good luck charms/amulets in Medieval England) it may be a word like Abracadabra, or the name of a god, or angel, or even demon? It might even be a phrase mistakenly rendered as one word. Any ideas?

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    Can you show us the slide? Sep 4, 2013 at 10:56
  • The slide was a modern powerpoint one, it didn't show the word in situ. Thanks to your solution below I now think that the speaker made a mistake in transcribing "zapta" as "zapata".
    – user24964
    Sep 4, 2013 at 12:18

3 Answers 3

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According to Etymonline, ananizapta is a magical word from the mid-15th century, which is around the end of the medieval period.

On Google Books I came across this passage:

For the falling sickness the charm was the following:

Ananizapta, ferit mortem dum læder querit,
Est mala mors capta dum dictus, Ananizapta;
Ananizapta Dei nunc miserere mei.

There are several other results where the word is used in a similar way.

Explanation and picture from Harder Gate in Ingolstadt

Dr. Karl thinks that the meaning of the whole formula is: Jesus Christ defeated death (the devil) by being baptized by John and by dying on the cross ("chiasmus").

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Could it be a name?

A search on Google reveals two people whose names contain "Anany Zapata", and one whose name is listed as "Anany Zapata", however that may not be his entire name.

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There was a movie Anazapta showing the plague killing a city but the whole meaning of the movie can be transcribed as "a revenge". Also in the TV series "the Vikings" this word is engraved on the sword and shown right at the end of the 20 serie of the forth season.

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    Welcome to English Language & Usage! Please explain your answer, preferably with some supporting statements and references.
    – NVZ
    Jan 29, 2017 at 17:11