One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of several very large ichneumon wasps of the genus Rhyssa, which are parasitoids of the larvae of wood-boring insects in conifers, especially those of horntails (woodwasps), which they reach using a very long ovipositor; also called giant ichneumon, sabre wasp.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Zoologist: a miscellany of natural history. From scientific Latin Rhyssa, genus name from ancient Greek ῥυσός, ῥυσσός shrivelled, wrinkled, perhaps from the same base as ἐρύειν to drag, draw, and ῥυτήρ person who draws or stretches, further origin unknown + -σός, suffix forming adjectives, often those designating physical deformities.
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