Definition of mantis in English:


(also praying mantis)


  • A slender predatory insect with a triangular head, which waits motionless for prey with its large forelegs folded like hands in prayer.

    Suborder Mantodea, order Dictyoptera: Mantidae and other families, and many species, including Mantis religiosa of southern Europe

    • ‘Belle is like a dark mantis sneaking in for the kill.’
    • ‘The mantis will attack butterflies, bees, beetles, frogs, spiders, mice, lizards, and small birds.’
    • ‘Instead of chemicals, their defense is based on ‘herds’ of preying mantises, scores of ladybugs, and armies of earthworms.’
    • ‘Middle Eastern people and Thais eat nearly all types of insect but foreigners tend to love the green mantis most.’
    • ‘Praying mantises, unlike other insects, do not eat plant life; they are the outstanding cannibals of the insect world and devour even members of their own family.’
    • ‘In autumn children listen to singing insects, observe and play with red dragonflies, collect inago locusts, stage spider fights, watch mantises, and collect wasps' nests.’
    • ‘The common European mantis is classified as Mantis religiosa, while the Carolina mantis is classified as Stagmonantis carolina.’
    • ‘Perhaps they're a pair, I thought, and went indoors and fetched my mantis and placed him on the jasmine bush, opposite his fellow insect.’
    • ‘The creatures look part stick insect, part mantis, with a touch of grasshopper.’
    • ‘The team has also found that 300 milliseconds before the bat hits the mantis, the insect's auditory nerve goes completely dead.’
    • ‘In The Temple of Doom, Indy walks through a chamber filled with mantises, beetles, worms, millipedes, moths, slugs, snails, and puppy dog tails.’
    • ‘A newcomer could easily get lost in its tunnels, and the unwary is easy prey to predatory wasps or mantises.’
    • ‘Like jackals around a tiger kill, small flies hovered around the feasting mantis, even daring to settle on its grotesque pea-like eyes.’
    • ‘Some insects also hunt down spiders, including the mantis and a wasp that specializes in catching and paralyzing spiders.’
    • ‘There is also a new predator - a South African preying mantis that grows far larger than the New Zealand native one.’
    • ‘When the cicada attacked, the mantis angled to the side and then pinned the cicada with its powerful forearms.’
    • ‘Spiders and butterflies and mantises, being pretty solitary for the most part, are easier to identify with.’
    • ‘One mantis may be kept on its own as a pet and fed throughout the year.’
    • ‘It looks like a preying mantis, has a huge hook to snare its prey and is coming to a rocky shoreline near you.’
    • ‘When Jerry comes in to interview the bed-bound man he looks like a preying mantis by comparison, as though the two men aren't even the same species.’


Mid 17th century: modern Latin, from Greek, literally ‘prophet’.