- ventriloquy 1580s, from L.L. ventriloquus, from L. venter (gen. ventris) "belly" (see VENTRAL (Cf. ventral)) + loqui "speak" (see LOCUTION (Cf. locution)). Patterned on Gk. engastrimythos, lit. "speaking in the belly," which was not originally an entertainer's trick but rather a rumbling sort of internal speech, regarded as a sign of spiritual inspiration or (more usually) demonic possession. Reference to the modern meaning seems to have begun early 18c., and by 1797 it was being noted that this was a curiously inappropriate word to describe throwing the voice.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.