The word "Voodoo" utilized today by mainly non-Diaspora (New Age and pagan) converts in Louisana, is considered a prejorative and racist condemnation and mockery of the Vodoun religion as it is respected and practiced in West Africa and in the Diaspora.
It was through the mocked use of the word "VOODOO" where the confusion lies when one is referring to being "VOODOO-ED," when actually they are meaning they have been "HOODOO-ED" or "CONJURED." Vodoun is an ancestral religion in which honor and reverence is given to the African-Diaspora lineage ancestors and community elders, and worship and reverence is bestowed on the divinities.
One cannot "curse" using the Vodoun deities. However, "conjuration" and (to a lessor extent)"hoodoo" are considered malevolent paths in the field of sorcerey and African witchcraft , and are entirely unrelated to the Vodoun religion, no more than "Satanism" and "Christinaity" are related in cosmogony, ritual or practice.
The word "Vodoun" ( other Ewe spellings: Vu, Vudu Vodou ) is derived from the West African Vodoun religions, namely from the Ewe/Fon language groups. In West Africa, the "n" is often pronounced, and is considered the ancient and appropriate appellation of this word. However, in some parts of West AfricaV.O.D.O.U. (voh-doo) is the most common spelling with no emphasis on the "n".
Vodoun is a proper "noun" (always capitalized), denoting the actual Vodoun Religion proper, whereas the use of "vodou" (small "v") is the spelling used to denote the actual Spirits (divinities) that are worshiped.
In the West, the French spelling “Vaudaux" or Vaudou-x," is often found in antiquated anthropology and cultural academic books, but is seldom if ever used in the West African traditions or their writings.
In New World Haitian Diaspora religion, they often use “Vodou” as the common spelling, and refer to their African and local deities using the Creole word “Lwa, which is a corruption of the antiquated Fon word “Loa,” meaning “mystery” or “law.” However, it is important to keep in mind that these two terms are never used in West African Vodoun. The divinities are known simply as “spirits.” This distinction is critical because if one is seeking the services of a Vodoun priest/ess of the West African Vodoun tradition, they would not understand what “Lwa” or “Loa” means when referring to the deities.
In Ewe, the word "vu" (vudu) is actually a metaphorical phrase originally used to describe the nature of the "vodou” Spirits. Its actual meaning "to draw water" is still applied by some to denote the entire process of the cycle of birth, life ,death and rebirth, and all that this encompasses in the life of an initiate (and by default "Human kind").
"To draw water" a long and often tedious process, almost always performed by African women, is analogous to the (initial) sufferings that they endure before they come into their "ashe."
Additionally, the suffix "-oun, -ou, -non" are pervasive throughout Ewe/Fon grammar, and orthographic structure. Below are a few of these words and their meanings. This orthography predates French colonialism, and though the "social" meaning of the word is offered, please note that the spiritual depth of its essential meaning is all pervasive--such is the nature of most African languages:
Vo (cirumflex on all "o"): is the actual word used to describe the original so-called "Voodoo doll." It is derived from the noun "Bochio," which is the actual carved figure used to hold the "Se" "spirit" of a person, became the precursor to the "voodoo doll" when their use and the parctice of Vodoun was outlawed in America. However, they ("Voodoo dolls") are not used in West African-Diaspora Vodoun.
Vodoungbefond jai: Monday
Vodoun-non: Head Priest ("-non" meaning "father")
Vodoun sin sen: Vodou worshiper
Von: The Earth from which we come Vou: meaning "small" or referring to a young child
Voudide: an enfant
Hoodoo: The Folk Magic of the African Diaspora
About.com interview with Mama Zogbe.