This word was chosen in Old English bibles to translate Latin benedicere and Greek eulogein, both of which have a ground sense of "to speak well of, to praise," but were used in Scripture to translate Hebrew brk "to bend (the knee), worship, praise, invoke blessings." L.R. Palmer ("The Latin Language") writes, "There is nothing surprising in the semantic development of a word denoting originally a special ritual act into the more generalized meanings to 'sacrifice,' 'worship,' 'bless,' " and he compares Latin immolare (see immolate).
The meaning shifted in late Old English toward "pronounce or make happy, prosperous, or fortunate" by resemblance to unrelated bliss. Meaning "invoke or pronounce God's blessing upon" is from early 14c. No cognates in other languages. Related: Blessed; blessing.
late 14c., rogacioun, in Church use, "a solemn supplication" (especially as said in a procession, a reference to Rogation days), from Old French rogacion and directly from Latin rogationem (nominative rogatio) "an asking, prayer, entreaty," also a specific term in Roman jurisprudence, noun of action from past-participle stem of rogare "to ask, inquire, question," also "to propose (a law, a candidate)," via the notion of "ask" the people; also especially "ask a favor, entreat, request." Apparently this is a figurative use of a PIE verb meaning literally "to stretch out (the hand)," from *rog-, variant of the root *reg- "move in a straight line." Related: Rogations.
Rogation days were the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Day, a time for processions round fields blessing crops and praying for good harvest, also blessing the boundary markers of each parish. Discouraged by Protestants as superstition, they were continued or revived in modified form as beating the bounds.
c. 1300, "incantation, magic charm," from Old French charme (12c.) "magic charm, magic spell incantation; song, lamentation," from Latin carmen "song, verse, enchantment, religious formula," from canere "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing"), with dissimilation of -n- to -r- before -m- in intermediate form *canmen (for a similar evolution, see Latin germen "germ," from *genmen). The notion is of chanting or reciting verses of magical power.
A yet stronger power than that of herb or stone lies in the spoken word, and all nations use it both for blessing and cursing. But these, to be effective, must be choice, well knit, rhythmic words (verba concepta), must have lilt and tune; hence all that is strong in the speech wielded by priest, physician, magician, is allied to the forms of poetry. [Jakob Grimm, "Teutonic Mythology" (transl. Stallybrass), 1883]
Sense of "pleasing quality, irresistable power to please and attract" evolved by 17c. From 1590s as "any item worn to avert evil;" meaning "small trinket fastened to a watch-chain, etc." first recorded 1865. Quantum physics sense is from 1964. Charm-bracelet is from 1941; charm-school from 1919. To work like a charm (figuratively) is recorded by 1824.
magical formula used in conjuring, 1630s, earlier Hocas Pocas, common name of a magician or juggler (1620s); a sham-Latin invocation used by jugglers, perhaps based on a perversion of the sacramental blessing from the Mass, Hoc est corpus meum "This is my body." The first to make this speculation on its origin apparently was English prelate John Tillotson (1630-1694).
I will speak of one man ... that went about in King James his time ... who called himself, the Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus tabantus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery. [Thomas Ady, "A Candle in the Dark," 1655]
Compare hiccus doccius or hiccus doctius, "formula used by jugglers in performing their feats" (1670s), also a common name for a juggler, which OED says is "conjectured to be a corruption of" Latin hicce es doctus "here is the learned man," "if not merely a nonsense formula simulating Latin." Also compare holus-bolus (adv.) "all at a gulp, all at once," which Century Dictionary calls "A varied redupl. of whole, in sham-Latin form." As a noun meaning "juggler's tricks," hocus-pocus is recorded from 1640s.
mid-15c., also mixte, "consisting of different elements or parts," from Latin mixtus, past participle of miscēre "to mix, mingle, blend" (from PIE root *meik- "to mix," also see mix (v.)). From 1550s as "not comprised in one class or kind, indiscriminate." Of government from 1530s.
Mixed blessing, one with some unpleasant elements, is by 1849. Mixed marriage is from 1690s, originally in a religious context; racial sense was in use by 1942 in U.S., though mixed breed in reference to mulattoes is found by 1775. Mixed motives is by 1736; mixed feelings by 1782. Mixed bag "heterogeneous collection" is by 1895, from the hunting term for an assortment of game birds killed in one outing. Mixed up is from 1884 as "confused," from 1862 as "involved, implicated" (see mix-up). Mixed metaphor, "an expression in which two or more metaphors are confused," is by 1753.
Mixed drink in the modern liquor sense is recorded by 1868; the thing itself is older; Bartlett (1859) lists sixty names "given to the various compounds or mixtures of spirituous liquors and wines served up in fashionable bar rooms in the United States," all from a single advertisement. The list includes Tippe na Pecco, Moral suasion, Vox populi, Jewett's fancy, Ne plus ultra, Shambro, Virginia fancy, Stone wall, Smasher, Slingflip, Pig and whistle, Cocktail, Phlegm-cutter, Switchel flip, Tip and Ty, Ching-ching, Fiscal agent, Slip ticket, Epicure's punch.