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.
- ‘The Persians did not worship wood and stone with the Greeks, nor the ibis and ichneumon with the Egyptians.’
- ‘They belong to the order Hymenoptera, which includes bees, wasps, sawflies, and ichneumons.’
- ‘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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