Learn English – What’s the original meaning of “Abraxis”


Today I realized that I'd been running into the name 'Abraxis' in quite a few different places, and I didn't know what it meant. If it appeared once or twice as the name of a fictional character or a music group, I wouldn't think much of it. None of the occurrences are very prominent. But put together, they suggest a common referent. What are they named after?

A web search on 'Abraxis' turns up a variety of businesses and other organizations that don't have any obvious common thread. None of the web sites I visited offer a clue as to why the name Abraxis was chosen. I'm beginning to think that most of the founders don't know what it means either; it just sounds cool.

Most likely it refers to someone or someplace in history, but I've been unable to find anything online that looked old enough to be original — a main referent after which other recent instances of Abraxis were named. I'm pretty sure the DC Comic character is not it.

Best Answer

OK I think I finally found it ... apparently it's a misspelling of Abraxas. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/633-abraxas

A term of Gnostic magic, of uncertain etymology. According to Irenæus ("Adversus Hæreses," i. 24, 3-7), the Gnostic Basilides (died about 130) gave the name of Abraxas to the highest Being, who presides over the 364 kingdoms of spirits (52 x 7 = 364)...

Given that spelling, standard references like Wikipedia give plenty of information. Probably the reason that Abraxas rings a bell for me is Santana's 1970 music album.

But I think this question and answer are still worth something, since the alternate spelling is so common, and does not lead easily to what seems to be the correct spelling.