The term is first recorded in 1836; it derives from the Zulu word umthakathi, being someone who mixes medicine, which itself comes from the Zulu thaka (mix) and muthi (medicine). The term has gradually come to be used to refer only to negative, harmful uses of medicines derived from plants, animals and minerals.
- In South African English, a wizard, witch, or a spiteful person who operates in secret to harm others or who uses poisons and familiar spirits to carry out harmful deeds.
- Silva, P., (ed.) 1996. The Oxford Dictionary of South African English, Oxford University Press.