Posted by: Jack Henry | April 14, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Mancy Pants

The other day, I ran across the word arithmancy, which means “divination by the use of numbers, especially by the number of letters in names.” Then, I thought of the word necromancy, which means “divination involving death or the dead.” I thought I’d see if there were any other words with the suffix -mancy. I was shocked with the number of words ending in -mancy! This suffix has its own web page! I’ve selected a few of the words I found on Wikipedia’s page for your enjoyment.

But first, the suffix itself:

-mancy: The act of divining; a foreseeing or foretelling of future events.

§ alphitomancy: An Ancient Greek method of divination using barley meal, used for instance to reveal guilty parties; it entailed feeding a person or group barley meal, and judging those who felt no effects to be innocent, while judging those who felt indigestion to be guilty.

§ batrachomancy (rare): Divination with frogs.

§ chronomancy: The divination of the best time to do something, or the determination of lucky and unlucky days.

§ daphnomancy (rare): Divination by laurel branches or trees, leaves etc.

§ enoptromancy: Divination by means of a mirror or other reflective surfaces.

§ felidomancy: Divination by interpreting the appearance and behavior of cats.

§ gyromancy:

o Divination where people walk on a circle of letters until dizzy; the letters they fall on are significant. Similar to Dervishing.

o Divination by whirling a coin on a circle of letters.

§ halomancy (also alomancy): Divination by use of salt. This is the origin for the superstition of spilled salt.

§ ichthyomancy:

o Divination interpreting the appearance and behavior of fish. A form of augury.

o Divination interpreting the entrails of fish. A form of aruspicy.

§ kephalomancy: Divination by the study of the skull or head of a donkey or goat. Sometimes mentioned as the roasting of an ass’s head on hot coals.  

§ lithomancy: Divination with the use of precious or semi-precious stones, gemstones, or normal stones by either interpreting the light they reflect (crystallomancy), or how they fall (sortilege).

§ molybdomancy: Divination by interpreting shapes formed when molten metal, typically lead or tin, is dropped into water.

§ nephomancy: Prophecy by use of the movement of clouds.

§ omphalomancy: Divination by means of a child’s navel, to learn how many children the mother may have.

§ pedomancy: Divination by examining the soles of the feet.

§ rhabdomancy: Divination with a wand or rod; dowsing.

§ scapulimancy: Divination using shoulder bones.

§ tasseomancy: Divination with tea leaves or coffee grounds.

§ zoomancy: Divination by means of animals.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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Symitar Documentation Services

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