One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Divination by means of meal, flour, cakes, or bread, especially when made from barley.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Gaule (1603/4–1687), Church of England clergyman and author. From French † alphitomantie from post-classical Latin alphitomantia from Hellenistic Greek ἀλϕιτόμαντις diviner by barley-meal + post-classical Latin -ia; compare -mancy.
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