One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A slender parasitic wasp with long antennae, which deposits its eggs in, on, or near the larvae of other insects.
Family Ichneumonidae, order Hymenoptera: numerous genera and species
- ‘They belong to the order Hymenoptera, which includes bees, wasps, sawflies, and ichneumons.’
- ‘The Persians did not worship wood and stone with the Greeks, nor the ibis and ichneumon with the Egyptians.’
- ‘For him, the fiend that shook his faith was the ichneumon wasp, which lays its eggs inside the larvae of the horntail wasp.’
2another term for Egyptian mongoose
- ‘They also are in competition for food with the swamp ichneumon, which preys on crabs.’
- ‘There are also jackals, wolves, the ichneumon and, possibly, a polecat.’
Late 15th century (in ichneumon (sense 2)): via Latin from Greek ikhneumōn ‘tracker’, from ikhneuein ‘to track’, from ikhnos ‘track, footstep’.
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