The ritual washing of parts of the body before prayer or handling the Qur'an; = "woodoo".
For a full description of the ritual and its requirements, see C. Glassé New Encycl. Islam (1989) at Wudu.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Paul Rycaut (1629–1700), diplomat and author. From Ottoman Turkish abdest (Turkish abdest) and (in later use) its etymon Persian ābdast from āb water + dast hand, forearm (from the same Indo-European base as Sanskrit hasta hand, forearm).